The negative effects of stress on infants during pregnancy can be erased by mothers’ caregiving

A study published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychotherapy suggests that mothers’ sensitive caregiving after giving birth may eliminate some of the negative effects of stress during pregnancy on newborns.

In the study of 94 mother-infant pair with higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol in pregnant women were associated with greater cortisol-based stress responses in infants however only in mothers who were less emotionally present after birth. This correlation was not observed with other indicators of stress during pregnancy.

These results are strikingly similar to those reported in animal work and emphasize the role of the postnatal and prenatal environments in programming of later outcomes. Clinically the findings suggest that postnatal interventions should focus on improving maternal caregiving in stressful situations during pregnancy to reduce the long-term negative effects of prenatal difficulties.

Sarah Nazzari, lead author, Scientific Institute IRCCS Eugenio Medea, Italy

Journal reference:

and. and. (2021). Maternal caregiving decreases the effect of antenatal maternal stress hormones on infant stress regulation Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

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Gemma Wilson

Gemma is a journalism graduate with keen interest in covering business news – specifically startups. She has as a keen eye for technologies and has predicted quite a few successful startups over the last couple of years.

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