Effects Of Prenatal Maternal Stress On Development

2329 words - 9 pages

Although there are many factors that affect the development of the fetus, research on the specific effects of prenatal maternal stress and the resulting negative outcomes for the development of the fetus will be reviewed. While there is knowledge of these harmful effects in scientific and medical communities, researchers are still in the midst of discovering the results of these negative effects on human development. An overall review of the literature suggests that this topic is still relatively new in research as most of the articles make note that despite the amount of current research studies, there are still many unanswered questions.
Each second of fetal development during pregnancy is of extreme importance. This period of prenatal development is a time of change and growth with many factors affecting all areas of growth. Different stimuli having long-lasting effects on development is a process known as programming. The goal of this first article, (put the name of the article here) is to look into the idea of programming and how the influence of stress effects prenatal development. It begins with a biological approach. Looking at the role of Glucocorticoids cortisol in fetal development, the article states that they play a critical role in development and are associated with the “hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, one of the body’s major stress responsive systems.” (Davis & Sandman, 2010) This cortisol increases in mothers over the course of pregnancy and is important in brain development in the fetus. While these Glucocorticoids are important and essential to prenatal development, overexposure can lead to negative effects, including emotional disturbances in early childhood, deregulated stress responses in infancy, impaired memory for school-aged children, and neurodevelopmental delays in toddlers. It has also been proven to lead to increased fussiness, negative behavior, fearfulness in infancy, and delays in mental development at 3 months and motor development at 3 to 8 months (Davis & Sandman, 2010). Consequently, a large number of issues can and have arisen that have been caused by an increase in Glucocorticoids during prenatal development.
Maternal stress also plays a role in the prenatal development affecting the length of gestation. Most commonly, maternal prenatal stress affects birth outcomes including prenatal delivery. Emerging research suggests that measures of pregnancy-specific stress are better than measures of general psychological distress for predicting developmental outcomes including preterm delivery (Davis & Sandman, 2010). Goals from the study in this article investigated maternal cortisol and stress and how each affects cognitive and motor development. Women who reported having higher levels of stress during the prenatal period reported a strong correlation with cognitive and motor development were associated with a stronger correlation of cognitive and motor development in their children, and reported...

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