advertisement
Home » News » Relationships » Sexuality » Baby’s Sex Influences Response to Pregnancy Stress

Baby’s Sex Influences Response to Pregnancy Stress

Baby's Sex Influences Response to Pregnancy Stress According to University of Adelaide researchers the gender of a baby determines the way it responds to stressors during pregnancy and its ability to survive pregnancy complications.

Male and female babies during pregnancy show different growth and development patterns following stressors during pregnancy such as disease, cigarette use or psychological stress.

“What we have found is that male and female babies will respond to a stress during pregnancy by adjusting their growth patterns differently,” said associate professor Vicki Clifton, lead researcher.

“The male, when mum is stressed, pretends it’s not happening and keeps growing, so he can be as big as he possibly can be. The female, in response to mum’s stress, will reduce her growth rate a little bit; not too much so she becomes growth restricted, but just dropping a bit below average.

“When there is another complication in the pregnancy – either a different stress or the same one again – the female will continue to grow on that same pathway and do okay but the male baby doesn’t do so well and is at greater risk of preterm delivery, stopping growing or dying in the uterus.”

Prof. Clifton said this sex-specific growth response had been observed in pregnancies complicated by asthma, preeclampsia and cigarette use but was also likely to occur in other stressful events during pregnancy such as psychological stress.

She said this sex-specific growth pattern was a result of changes in placental function caused by the stress hormone cortisol.

In female babies, increased cortisol produces changes to the placental function which lead to the reduction in growth, but the increased cortisol levels in a mother carrying a male baby doesn’t produce the same changes in placental function.

Prof. Clifton said this research could lead to sex-specific therapies in preterm pregnancies and premature newborns. It was also important in helping obstetricians more accurately interpret growth and development of the fetus in at-risk pregnancies.

“We are looking at what events during pregnancy cause changes in how the baby grows, what’s behind this and ways in which we can improve the outcomes for pregnant women and their babies,” she said.

Source: University of Adelaide

Baby’s Sex Influences Response to Pregnancy Stress

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Baby’s Sex Influences Response to Pregnancy Stress. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 25, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2010/04/30/babys-sex-influences-response-to-pregnancy-stress/13342.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.