A recent Australian study has linked mother stress levels during pregnancy with the child’s coordination capacities later in life.
The researchers conducted a longitudinal study asking 2,900 Australian mothers twice during their pregnancy whether they had experienced stressful events while carrying their child. Stress can be produced by financial problems, the death of a family member or friend, or a separation or divorce, among many other causes.
Afterwards, the experts examined the children’s coordination and ability to control body movements at ages 10, 14 and 17. For example, researchers tested the kids’ grip strength, how far they could jump, and how well they could stand on one foot or turn a nut onto a bolt.
Almost every time, children born to mothers who experienced three or more stressful events during pregnancy had lower levels of coordination than the children of mothers with lower levels of stress.
“Even though it is not clear whether or how the results of the tests conducted in the study may translate into real-life impacts for the participants, it is believed to be related with the development of the cerebellar cortex, which is a brain area that develops later in pregnancy and controls many motor functions,” said Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics at Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York, to CBS News.
The new findings suggest that “programs aimed at detecting and reducing maternal stress during pregnancy” may improve the long-term outlook for these children, study author Beth Hands, professor of human movement at the University of Notre Dame Australia, said in a statement.
The study published October 14th in the journal Child Development also noted the importance of mothers’ emotional and mental health on a wide range of developmental and health outcomes.
Source: CBS News