Stress and Pregnancy

Author:  Rashi Venkataraman

Institution:  Carnegie Mellon University
Date:  September 2007

For years, doctors have emphasized that pregnant women should attempt to minimize their stress during their pregnancies. Now, thanks to a research group from Temple University, doctors can prove that increased stress can potentially induce hypertension (more commonly referred to pre-eclampsia) that could be life-threatening.

Pre-eclampsia occurs during the second trimester and is known to occur in 6-8% of pregnancies. Although the cause of the condition is still not known, so far, its presence is more common in women carrying multiple babies, teenage mothers, and pregnant women older than 40. Pre-eclampsia can prevent the placenta (main provider of air and food for the fetus) from getting enough blood from the mother. Eventually, this can cause a low birth weight for the fetus that can cause a slew of other problems during the pregnancy. That being said, if detected early, most women who suffer from the condition will go on deliver perfectly healthy infants.

A team from Temple University, led by Kathleen Black, found that stress could cause blood vessel constriction, therefore reducing blood flow. Common symptoms of the condition are persistent headaches, blurred vision, and abdominal pain. Black's group also found that stress, vertigo, an inability to concentrate, and mental changes can also be indicative of pre-eclampsia.

By Rashi Venkataraman

Reviewed by: Pooja Ghatalia

Published by: Konrad Sawicki