Infants’ brains may be shaped by levels of stress their mother experiences during pregnancy, a study has revealed.
Stress levels in mothers — measured by a hormone linked to anxiety and other health problems — is related to changes in areas of the infant brain associated with emotional development, the study suggests.
Doctors say the findings highlight the urgent need for women to be better supported with their mental and physical health before and during pregnancy, and could help them spot mums and babies who need help.
The experts add that pregnant women who feel stressed or unwell should seek help from their midwife or consultant and that with support, most health issues can be well managed in pregnancy.
Maternal stress is known to influence the development of the child’s behaviour and ability to regulate its emotions as it grows. This is usually measured by questionnaires, which are not always