Stress in early pregnancy can cause miscarriage

Published on February 22, 2006 at 4:33 PM · No Comments

According to a team of researchers in the U.S., women who exhibit signs of stress are three times more likely to miscarry during the first three weeks of the pregnancy.

In a recent study lead author Dr. Pablo A. Nepomnaschy, from the National Institutes of Health in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, and his colleagues examined the levels of a hormone in the urine of 16 women in a rural Guatemalan community.

The urine was checked three times a week for a period of one year for the stress induced hormone cortisol.

The study is the first to link increases in cortisol levels to very early-stage pregnancy loss.

According to previous scientific reports anywhere from 31 percent to 89 percent of all conceptions result in miscarriage, but most studies begin when women notice they are pregnant, about six weeks after conception.

However, most miscarriages are known to happen during the first 3 weeks of pregnancy and Nepomnaschy says the only way to capture the first three weeks of pregnancy is to begin collecting their urine from before they become pregnant.

In the study, 22 pregnancies occurred in a total of 16 women, and each woman’s cortisol levels were measured against their own baseline levels.

The researchers found that 90 percent of the women, whose ages ranged from 18 to 34, with elevated levels of the stress-induced hormone miscarried during the first three weeks of pregnancy, compared to 33 percent of those with normal levels.

The researchers say the body may recognize elevated cortisol levels as an alarm that conditions are unfavorable for pregnancy.

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