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Stress in pregnancy risky for babies

According to a study, babies born to mothers who undergo severe stress during pregnancy face brain disorders.

health and fitness Updated: Feb 05, 2008 14:49 IST

Babies born to mothers who undergo severe stress during pregnancy are likely to face a higher risk of developing brain disorders like schizophrenia, says a new study.

Researchers at the University of Manchester studied data from 1.38 million Danish births occurring between 1973 and 1995.

They found that the risk of schizophrenia - a chronic, severe, and disabling brain disorder - and related illnesses was around 67 percent greater among the offspring of women who lost a relative during their first trimester, reported the online edition of BBC News.

However, the researchers found no evidence that a loss of a relative at any other time during the pregnancy or in the six months leading up to a pregnancy had any effect on the unborn baby.

In addition, the association between bereavement and schizophrenia risk only appeared significant for people without a family history of mental illness, the study found.

Past studies have shown that stress in pregnancy increases risk of low birth weight and pre-maturity.

Some studies have also suggested that abnormalities in brain structure and function that are associated with schizophrenia may begin to form in the earliest stages of foetal development.