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The impact of stress on the developing foetus

Watch this video. Professor Jane Barlow describes some of the mechanisms that mean stress during pregnancy can have long-lasting consequences.

The mother’s emotional mind in pregnancy may alternate between feelings of happiness and relaxation, and other less optimal feelings such as anxiety and depression.

Anxiety during pregnancy is common, and in this video we describe some of the research that has been conducted over the last decade, and what it tells us about the impact of stress on the developing foetus. We focus in particular on research that has examined the impact of such stress on the neurobehavioural and psychological functioning of the baby and the child.

We also describe some of the mechanisms by which this occurs, focusing in particular on new research which suggests that stress may affect the ability of the placenta to prevent the transfer of cortisol from the mother to the foetus, and the impact of this on the rapidly developing foetal nervous system, and in particular their Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal axis (HPA), which plays a role in setting the infant’s stress thermostat.

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Babies in Mind: Why the Parent's Mind Matters

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