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Stress in Pregnancy Doesn’t Cause ADHD in Baby after All

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Stressed mothers-to-be face an increased risk of giving birth to a child who will develop ADHD or heart disease later in life,” the Mail Online reports.

However, the new study it is reporting on did not look at long-term outcomes in children, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), only at stress hormone levels during pregnancy.

This Swiss study involved 34 healthy pregnant women. Levels of stress hormones were measured from their saliva and the amniotic fluid around the baby during an amniocentesis – a test for genetic conditions.

Women who reported being under stress had higher levels of stress hormones in the amniotic fluid. Higher levels of stress hormones in the amniotic fluid were associated with lighter and smaller babies, but they then grew faster so that there was no difference by the time they were born.

It is difficult to draw any firm conclusions from this small study. It certainly does not show that stress during pregnancy causes ADHD.

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