Stress in pregnant women 'causes gut health changes that damage the baby'

15 November 2016

A new study has indicated that pregnant women who are under stress experience changes in their intestinal health that can have an effect on their unborn children.

Ohio State University researchers carried out a study using mice, finding that pregnant animals exposed to stress appeared to undergo a change in the makeup of the bacteria in their guts and placentas.

These changes to the microbiome led to corresponding shifts in the intestinal tracts of their female offspring, with these microbial changes lasting into adulthood. In these offspring, a lower ability to learn and higher anxiety-like behaviour were both observed.

Although the subject requires additional research, it offers a further indication of the link between poor mental health in mothers and the future health of their children, while also suggesting that pregnant women with stress or depression should seek interventions.

Lead researcher Tamar Gur, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioural health, neuroscience and obstetrics and gynaecology at Ohio State University, said: "More and more, doctors and researchers are understanding that naturally occurring bacteria are not just a silent presence in our body, but that they contribute to our health."

Posted by Jeanette Royston

 


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