If the child is stressed during pregnancy, there are serious consequences

Study examines effects of stress in pregnancy on the offspring
The conditions in the womb are an essential prerequisite for the healthy development of the child and can have lifelong effects. Scientists at Charité University Medicine Berlin are now planning to investigate the consequences of stress in pregnancy for cell biology and cell aging in the offspring.

According to the researchers, pregnancy stress could have far more far-reaching consequences than previously thought. If the mother's stress factors influence the child's developmental processes during pregnancy, they could shape physiological mechanisms at this point in time so that the effects extend well into later life and the risk of age-related diseases increases, reports the Berlin Charité.

Is the basis of the aging processes already in the womb?
Aging processes can be determined by definition with advancing age. However, the basis for its process may already be laid in the womb in many places. Because the time of growing up in the mother's womb, according to the Charité, has a major influence on the future health and development of the child. Prenatal stress could possibly be transferred directly to the unborn. The team of researchers led by Prof. Dr. Sonja Entringer from the Institute for Medical Psychology at the Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin is now investigating in a study on 350 mother-child pairs.

Study of the effects of prenatal stress
"For several years now, Prof. Entringer has been working on the relationships between stress factors and disease risks, the main focus here is on telomer biology and cell aging processes," the Charité announced. With the help of 350 mother-child pairs, which are accompanied from pregnancy to the child's first year, the researchers hope to gain new insights into the effects of prenatal stress. Among other things, psychological and physiological characteristics as well as behavior during pregnancy are recorded, which should be recorded with smart phone apps in everyday life. According to the Charité, the establishment of the research group will be funded "with 1.48 million euros in the next five years" by the European Research Council.

Influence of prenatal stress on development conditions
The basic assumption is that age-related complaints are caused by a number of factors that accumulate over the course of a lifetime or to which a person is exposed. However, according to the Charité, the scientists led by Prof. Entringer are pursuing a new research approach. "Changes in cell aging processes and mechanisms that control them may have their origin in the womb," explains Prof. Entringer. This means that they are decisively exposed to the influence of prenatal development conditions, "including many other factors, including stress," continues Entringer.

Does the stress load of the mother increase the risk of illness?
The planned study is intended to “clarify the question of a connection between the mother's stress level and biological changes in the newborn over the first year of life,” reports the Berlin Charité. "If we better understand the molecular biological and epigenetic mechanisms through which the stress load of the mother increases the risk of diseases of the next generation, completely new perspectives arise, which increase the precision of clinical diagnostics and the success of prevention and interventions," explains the study leader Entringer. If necessary, countermeasures could "be used in very early stages of development before the actual manifestation of diseases", emphasizes Prof. (fp)

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