Penn Study Finds That a Mother’s Stress May Impact the Mental Health of Her Fetus

A study by a research group at the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, finds that when female mammals are placed under stress during their pregnancies, they pass on through their placenta a higher level of protein that affects the developing brains of their offspring. The authors of the study suggest that maternal stress exposure may be a factor in neurodevelopment diseases such as autism and schizophrenia.

Bale Tracy for releaseTracy L. Bale, a senior author of the study and an associate professor in the department of animal biology at the Penn veterinary school, stated, “Most everything experienced by a woman during a pregnancy has to interact with the placenta in order to transmit to the fetus. Now we have a marker that appears to signal to the fetus that its mother has experienced stress.”

Dr. Bale is a graduate of Washington State University and holds a Ph.D. in pharmacology/neurobiology from the University of Washington.

The research was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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