Prenatal Anxiety in Moms Tied to Higher Infant Illness Risk

First-year illnesses, antibiotic use higher in babies born to women reporting stress, anxiety
By Monica Smith
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, July 21 (HealthDay News) -- Babies whose mothers experience prenatal stress and anxiety appear to be at higher risk for illnesses and require more antibiotics in their first year of life, according to research published online July 19 in Pediatrics.

To examine the relationship between prenatal anxiety and stress and increased infant illness and antibiotic use in a baby's first year, Roseriet Beijers, of Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands, and colleagues analyzed questionnaires about stress and anxiety completed by 174 women during their third trimesters who had normal pregnancies and term deliveries. The women's stress levels were also determined by cortisol levels in saliva samples.

Even after controlling for other relevant factors, the researchers found that the variance in infant illness and antibiotic use was predicted by prenatal anxiety and stress: 10.7 percent for general illness, 9.3 percent for respiratory problems, 8.9 percent for skin conditions, and 7.6 percent for the use of antibiotics. Prenatal anxiety and stress did not appear to have an impact on digestive illnesses.

"Although replication is warranted, to our knowledge, this is the first evidence linking maternal prenatal anxiety and stress to infant illnesses and antibiotic use early in life," the authors write.

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