The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on stress in both pregnant and postpartum women. Researchers say this is concerning as prenatal stress can hamper fetal brain development.
Immune cells in the uterus and placenta of stressed pregnant mice were not activated, but researchers found increased levels of inflammation in the developing fetal brain. Additionally, prenatal stress led to reductions in gut microbial strains and functions, especially in those linked to inflammation.
Mouse study reveals maternal exercise during pregnancy reduced the transmission of metabolic disorders from obese parents, whether the disorder was apparent in the father or mother.
Lower birth weight in medically assisted reproduction babies does not appear to hamper cognitive development to the same degree that it does in naturally conceived children with lower weight at birth.
Pomegranate juice appears to have neuroprotective effects in pregnancies marked by intrauterine growth restriction. Researchers found pomegranate juice reduced the risk of brain injury in infants with IUGR, especially when pregnant women drank it during the third trimester.
Pregnant women exposed to nitrates through household drinking water had, on average, babies that weighed ten grams less than women with no exposure to nitrates in drinking water. High levels of nitrate in tap water can cause infant methemoglobinemia, a fatal condition in newborns.
Genes found in the placenta can accurately help predict the size of a baby's brain and its cognitive development, which, depending on other factors, could predict risk factors for schizophrenia in later life.
Contrary to popular belief, women with multiple sclerosis may not be at higher risk for complications during pregnancy, such as gestational diabetes or still-birth. However, babies of mothers with MS are more likely to be induced or believed by elective C-sections.
Methylation of the oxytocin gene OXT was associated with maternal personal distress, resulting in harsher parenting. OXT methylation was also negatively correlated with gray matter in the right inferior temporal gyrus.
Stress, anxiety, and depression in pregnant women is associated with social and behavioral problems in their offspring. Neuroimaging reveals fetuses whose mothers were anxious had weaker connectivity between brain areas associated with executive and cognitive function.