Impact of Prenatal Stress on the Foetus



Prenatal Stress, Foetus, Pregnancy Issues, Psychosocial Stressor


Pregnancy is a period of many changes; it’s typical to feel stressed
during it. Your family, your body, and your emotions are all undergoing
changes. These changes are exciting, but they can also be stressful. High
levels of stress that persists for an extended period of time can cause
high blood pressure or heart disease. Morning sickness, constipation,
exhaustion, and backaches are just some of the aches and pains that
come with pregnancy. Hormones are fluctuating, which might affect
your mood. Mood fluctuations can make stress more difficult to manage.
There is constant worry what to expect during labour and delivery, or
how to care for your newborn. If you work, you may be responsible for
managing job tasks and preparing your work for your maternity leave.


Milad MP, Klock SC, Moses S, Chatterton R. Stress

and anxiety do not result in pregnancy wastage. Hum

Reprod. 1998;13:2296-300. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

Orr ST, James SA, Casper R. Psychosocial stressors and

low birthweight: development of a questionnaire.

Dev Behav Pediatr. 1992;13:343-7. [PubMed] [Google


Lobel M, Cannella DL, Graham JE, DeVincent C,

Schneider J, Meyer BA. Pregnancy-specific stress,

prenatal health behaviors, and birth outcomes. Health

Psychol. 2008;27:604-15. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

Dong Y, Yu JL. An overview of morbidity, mortality

and long-term outcome of late preterm birth. World J

Pediatrics. 2011;7:199-204. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

Thornton CA. Immunology of pregnancy. Proc Nutr Soc.

;69:357-65. [Pubmed] [Google Scholar]

Parker VJ, Douglas AJ. Stress in early pregnancy:

maternal neuro-endocrine-immune responses and

effects. J Reprod Immunol. 2010;85:86- 92. [Pubmed]

[Google Scholar]

Parcells DA. Women’s mental health nursing:

depression, anxiety and stress during pregnancy. J

Psychiatr Ment Health Nurs. 2010;17:813-20. [Pubmed]

[Google Scholar]

O Connor TG, Heron J, Golding J, GloverV, AL SPAC.

Maternal antenatal anxiety and behavioural/emotional

problems in children: a test of a programming

hypothesis. J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2003; 44(7):1025-

[Pubmed] [Google Scholar]

DiPietro JA, Hodgson DM, Costigan A, Hilton SC,

Johnson TR. Fetal neurobehavioral development. Child

Development. 1996;67:2553-2567. [Pubmed] [Google


Dieter J. Maternal depression and anxiety effects on

the human fetus: Preliminary findings and clinical

implications. Infant Mental Health Journal. 2008;

(5):420-441. [Pubmed] [Google Scholar]

Di Pietro JA. Maternal stress and affect influence fetal

neurobehavioral development. Dev Psychol. 2002;

(5):659-668. [PubMed: 12220045]. [Pubmed]

[Google Scholar]

Copper RL, Goldenberg RL, DuBard MB, Davis RO. Risk

factors for fetal death in white, black, and Hispanic

women. Collaborative group on preterm birth

prevention. Obstet Gynecol. 1994;84:490-5. [Pubmed]

[Google Scholar]

Wadhwa PD, Sandman C, Porto M, Dunkel-Schetter

C, Garite TJ. The association between prenatal stress

and infant birth weight and gestational age at birth:

a prospective investigation. Am J Obstet Gynecol.

;169:858-66. [Pubmed] [Google Scholar]

Kramer MR, Hogue CR. What causes racial disparities in

very preterm birth?A biosocial perspective. Epidemiol

Rev. 2009;31:84-98. [Pubmed] [Google Scholar]

Glynn LM, Dunkel Schetter C, Hobel CJ, Sandman CA.

Pattern of perceived stress and anxiety in pregnancy

predicts preterm Birth. Health Psychol. 2008;27:43-51.

[Pubmed] [Google Scholar]

Coussons-Read M. Stress and immunity in pregnancy.

In: Segerstrom SC, ed.The Oxford Handbook of

Psychoneuroimmunology. New York: Oxford University

Press, 2012:3-17. [Google Scholar]

Pearce BD, Grove J, Bonney EA, Bliwise N, Dudley DJ,

Schendel DE, Thorsen P. Interrelationship of cytokines,

hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis hormones, and

psychosocial variables in the prediction of preterm

birth. Gynecol Obstet Invest 2010;70:40-6. [Pubmed]

[Google Scholar]

Buss C, Davis EP, Muftuler LT, Head K, Sandman CA. High

pregnancy anxiety during mid-gestation is associated

with decreased gray matter density in 6-9-year-old

children. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2010;35(1):141-

[Pubmed] [Google Scholar]

Mennes M, Van den Bergh B, Lagae L, Stiers P.

Developmental brain alterations in 17 year old

boys are related to antenatal maternal anxiety. Clin

Neurophysiol. 2009;120(6):1116-22. [Pubmed] [Google


Moog NK, Entringer S, Rasmussen JM, Styner M,

Gilmore JH, Kathmann N, Heim CM, Wadhwa PD, Buss

C. Intergenerational effect of maternal exposure to

childhood maltreatment on newborn brain anatomy.

Biol Psychiatry. 2018;83(2):120-127. [Pubmed] [Google


Capron LE, Glover V, Pearson RM, Evans J, O’Connor TG,

Stein A, Murphy SE, Ramchandani PG. Associations of

maternal and paternal antenatal mood with offspring

anxiety disorder at age 18 years. J Affect Disord.

;187:20-26. [Pubmed] [Google Scholar]