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High stress in women linked to lower birthweight in newborn

High stress among women before and during pregnancy may result in low birth weight in newborns, say researchers from University of California (UCLA).

The study, which was published in the journal of Health Psychology, explored the relationship between maternal cortisol patterns and birth weight of the newborn. It was conducted on 142 women who were part of a larger study on how stress affects new parents and their babies.

Chris Dunkel Schetter, professor of psychology, UCLA, said that levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, typically increase by 2-4 times during normal pregnancy. This helps in the baby's growth and development. However, if the levels increase beyond this range, it reduces flow of blood to the fetus, depriving it of oxygen and nutrients. It also influences the child's response to stress later in their life.

Babies born with lower weight have a higher chance of developing cardiovascular and metabolic disorders.

 Read the full study here.