Mother Passes Stress to Children

January 5th, 2012 by Dr. Keith Nemec

Pregnant women who were traumatized by witnessing the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center may have passed on a biological sign of stress to their unborn babies, scientists have stated.

Researchers found the women and their babies had reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which is a sign someone has been affected by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Low levels of cortisol have been observed in the children of Holocaust survivors, but researchers had put them down to living with a depressed parent or hearing stories about what had happened to them.

The latest study suggests however that a mother can pass on low cortisol levels to her unborn child, researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York and the University of Edinburgh in Scotland said.

“This shows that exposure to severe stress in pregnancy is associated not only with PTSD in the mothers but also with the biologic marker of it – low hormone levels in the saliva – in the offspring,” Professor Jonathan Seckl, of the University of Edinburgh, said.

Seckl said it was too early to tell if the children would suffer any ill effects. The researchers plan to follow up the children during their development.
In a study of 38 pregnant women Seckl and Dr Rachel Yehuda, of Mount Sinai School of Medicine, found lower than normal levels of cortisol in saliva samples from the women who suffered PTSD linked to the 9/11 attacks, and in their infants.

The mothers and their babies had lower levels of the hormone than women who did not develop PTSD following the tragedy. Even a year after the children’s birth, babies of stressed mothers had lower levels of cortisol than other children.

“The findings suggest that mechanisms for transgenerational transmission of biologic effects of trauma may have to do with very early parent-child attachments,” Yehuda said.

She added the effects of cortisol programing could even begin before birth.
-Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism

Dr. Keith & Laurie Nemec Comments on Stress:
What you do to yourself you do to your unborn children. This study showed how stress is passed from mother to unborn baby. The stress was measured by levels of a stress hormone called cortisol. Women who had been traumatized by witnessing great tragedy not only had reduced levels of cortisol, a biological sign of stress, but also gave birth to children with lower than normal cortisol levels. The researchers did not know how this would potentially affect the growth and development of the children.

The message is this: What you do to yourself you do to your children—both unborn and born. The most powerful way you can impact your children lives is to change your life.

If you want your child to be at peace, filled with love and joy in their life journey, then you must be at peace and filled with love and joy in your life journey. The more you transform yourself into God’s image and likeness, the more they will be transformed. One of the most powerful ways to impact your children’s lives is change your own by living the Seven Basic Steps to Total Health™ everyday. Once again they are:

If you change your lifestyle, your child will model those changes. When you teach your children by example and out of love you will give them the tools, the ability to be all that God has called them to be in body, mind and Spirit.

Remember when the oxygen is necessary on the plane; they ALWAYS say “put your mask on first before you put your child’s mask on.” Let us learn an important lesson in life from this. What you do to yourself you are doing to your children.

If you see life as stressful, so will they. If you see life as beautiful, so will they. So choose wisely in this journey of life because it not only affects you but also the generations to come.

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