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How bad is it to be stressed during pregnancy?

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Scientists have spent the last decade looking at whether pregnancy stress affects your baby’s wellbeing. Experts are trying to pinpoint if being stressed in pregnancy can have an effect independent of other factors which are commonly linked with it, such as early delivery or postnatal stress.

Professor Vivette Glover, an expert in the effects of stress in pregnancy at Imperial College, London, and her team studied information on almost 7500 women and their children. Strong associations were shown between antenatal anxiety and behavioural and emotional problems in children as young as four years old. 

‘Stress in pregnancy could be responsible for as many as 10-15% of all cases of emotional or behavioural problems, including attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder,’ says Professor Glover. In the UK, this means stress in pregnancy could be responsible for up to 80,000 babies born every year going on to develop one of these conditions. Put in context, this means the chance of your baby growing up to have one of these problems increases from one in 20 to one in 10 if you are stressed in pregnancy.

‘It is important to note however that most children born to women who are stressed have double the risk, but most will be fine,’ Professor Glover went on to say.

It is possible to seek early pregnancy advice online from the Simply Better Births website. If you would like to speak to a private midwife about any pregnancy concerns or would like to see a private midwife in London or Manchester you can arrange an appointment by calling: 0844 880 1084.