Prenatal Stress in Pregnancy and Infant Outcomes
College of New Rochelle
Stress has become one of the major issues of health concern in modern society. Stress results from an excessive level of pressure, whether real or perceived, and occurs when there is a disparity between what the individual wants, and feels capable of doing, and can affect everyone directly or indirectly (Solloway, 2000). It is also condition or circumstance which can disturb the normal physical and mental health of an individual (Solloway, 2000). One may think of stress as a mind-body experience. This demand on the mind and body occurs when it tries to cope with constant changes in life. Pregnancy, for instance, is a joyful time for most women. It can also be a time of uncertainty and worry, which may increase stress levels and have negative consequences on developing fetus. There is growing evidence that maternal psychosocial stress has negative effects during the pregnancy and may be hazardous to the developing fetus and infant outcome (Ruiz & Avant, 2005). Psychosocial stress is often defined as life experiences, including changes in personal life, job status, housing, domestic violence and family makeup, which all can have significant psychological consequences (Coussons-Read, Okun, Simm, 2003). This type of prenatal maternal stress experience can range from severe (e.g trauma) to low (e.g day to day hassles) (Coussons-Read et al., 2003). Empirical evidence has also supported that mothers experiencing high levels of psychological or social stress during pregnancy are at significantly higher risk for preterm birth, which is defined as the delivery of a baby before 37 weeks gestation (Hobel & Culhane, 2003).
The rate of preterm births is 12% in the United States and is a growing public health problem that has significant consequences for... [continues]
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