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Jessica Beasley
/ Categories: Motherhood, Pregnancy

Stress linked to Brain Disorder

According to a study published in Endocrinology, stress can affect the microbes that exist in the vagina of a pregnant woman, which is then passed on to the baby during vaginal birth. This transfer causes changes to occur in the newborns gut microbiome and brain development. As a result, these modifications affect the babies’ immune system and metabolism. Scientists have concluded that the change in the gut microbiota is connected to a much bigger risk of neurodevelopmental disorders which include autism and schizophrenia.
The first trimester is the most significant because it is the time where all the organs and nervous system is being developed. It is also the time where the fetus is more prone to damage. A team of Penn researchers discovered that during the first trimester, stress has its greatest impact on the baby. The results of this study insinuate that stress has the ability to impact the development of the fetus even before the woman realizes that she is pregnant. The findings also align themselves with epidemiological studies that suggest that the first trimester is a vital period that is impacted by an assortment of environmental factors such as stress, infection, and malnutrition which have a direct relation with neurodevelopmental disorders.
Babies that are delivered by C-section are protected from the vaginal microbes, however, it is very likely that their guts will be filled with bacteria from their mother’s skin or from the hospital. In the event that either of these takes place, it still doesn’t compare to the damage that comes from coming in contact with the vaginal microbes.
Some level of stress is expected and is common amongst pregnant women, however high levels of stress is harmful at any point in your pregnancy. If you sense that you are becoming overwhelmed try some breathing exercises, stretching, yoga, swimming, going for a walk or listening to some relaxing music. These things will not only help you but also your growing baby.


SOURCE:
Eldin Jašarević, Christopher L. Howerton, Christopher D. Howard, Tracy L. Bale; Alterations in the Vaginal Microbiome by Maternal Stress Are Associated With Metabolic Reprogramming of the Offspring Gut and Brain, Endocrinology, Volume 156, Issue 9, 1 September 2015, Pages 3265–3276, https://doi.org/10.1210/en.2015-1177
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