Scientists in the US have pointed to a possible link between stressful pregnancies and premature birth, as well as calling on healthcare bosses across the globe to boost professional and public awareness.
According to research conducted by a team at the University of Michigan and published in the BJOG obstetrics and gynaecology journal this week, mothers-to-be who struggle with anxiety are also more likely to have smaller babies.
"Women with post-traumatic stress disorder need specialised care and screening is essential to ensure the best outcome," said BJOG deputy editor-in-chief John Thorp. "Raising awareness will help health workers identify those women at risk."
Lead researcher Julia Seng suggested there should be a renewed focus on women who at the highest risk of stress. More than two-fifths of the 839 participants in the survey were African-American.
Last month, Tommy's midwife Amanda Kershaw urged pregnant women to seek professional help to quit smoking, pointing out that the habit can increase the risk of various complications.
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Private maternity news : 29 July 2011