Wednesday November 20, 2019

Physical and Psychological Stress during Pregnancy may Affect Baby’s Sex

About 17 per cent of the women were psychologically stressed, with clinically meaningful high levels of depression, anxiety, and perceived stress

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Physical, Psychological, Stress
For the findings, published in the journal PNAS, the research team examined 27 indicators of psychosocial, physical and lifestyle stress collected from questionnaires, diaries, and daily physical assessments of 187 otherwise healthy pregnant women, aged between 18 to 45. Pixabay

Pregnant women experiencing physical and psychological stress are less likely to have a boy, says a new study.

“Stress can also affect the mother’s immune system, leading to changes that affect neurological and behavioural development in the foetus,” said study leader Catherine Monk, Professor at Columbia University Vagelos College in the US.

“What’s clear from our study is that maternal mental health matters, not only for the mother but also for her future child,” Monk said.

For the findings, published in the journal PNAS, the research team examined 27 indicators of psychosocial, physical and lifestyle stress collected from questionnaires, diaries, and daily physical assessments of 187 otherwise healthy pregnant women, aged between 18 to 45.

Physical, Psychological, Stress
Stress can also affect the mother’s immune system, leading to changes that affect neurological and behavioural development in the foetus. Pixabay

About 17 per cent of the women were psychologically stressed, with clinically meaningful high levels of depression, anxiety, and perceived stress.

Another 16 per cent were physically stressed, with relatively higher daily blood pressure and greater caloric intake compared with other healthy pregnant women.

The majority (nearly 125) were healthy.

The study suggested that pregnant women experiencing physical and psychological stress are less likely to have a boy.

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The sex ratio in the physically and psychologically stressed groups favoured girls, with male-to-female ratios of 4:9 and 2:3, respectively.

According to the researchers, physically stressed mothers, with higher blood pressure and caloric intake, were more likely to give birth prematurely than unstressed mothers.

Psychologically stressed mothers had more birth complications than physically stressed mothers, the study said.

An estimated 30 per cent of pregnant women report psychosocial stress from job strain or related to depression and anxiety.

Physical, Psychological, Stress
What’s clear from our study is that maternal mental health matters, not only for the mother but also for her future child. Pixabay

Such stress has been associated with increased risk of premature birth, which is linked to higher rates of infant mortality and of physical and mental disorders, such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and anxiety, among offspring.

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When social support was statistically equalised across the groups, the stress effects on pre-term birth disappeared, the study added. (IANS)

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Husbands With Well-Paid Wives May Have Poor Mental Health

A wife who is well-paid may be injurious to husband's mental health

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Mental Health
Working wives who are paid well can be the reason for a poor mental health in husbands. Pixabay

If your wife earns more than you, especially after marriage, and you are facing some sort of mental stress for quite some time, there is a definite link between the two.

An interesting study has found that husbands are least stressed when their wives earn up to 40 per cent of household income but become increasingly uncomfortable as their spouse’s wages rise beyond that point and are most stressed when they are entirely economically dependent on their partner.

The research from the University of Bath also showed that husbands did not suffer psychological distress about their wives’ income if their wife was the higher earner before marriage and the existing and potential income gap was clear to them.

The study of over 6,000 American heterosexual couples over 15 years showed husbands are at their most anxious when they are the sole breadwinner, shouldering all the burden of responsibility for the household’s finances.

Stress levels decline as their wives’ earnings approach 40 per cent of household income. But as women’s earnings go through that point, the study showed husbands’ stress levels gradually increasing.

“The findings suggest that social norms about male breadwinning — and traditional conventions about men earning more than their wives — can be dangerous for men’s health. They also show how strong and persistent are gender identity norms,” said Dr Joanna Syrda, an economist at the University of Bath’s School of Management.

The study also shed light on the ‘bargaining power’ between husband and wife.

“The elevated psychological distress that comes with husbands’ economic dependence on their wives can also have practical underpinnings due to bargaining in the shadow of dissolution or the fear of reduced economic status in the event of an actual divorce. These effects are larger among cohabiting couples, possibly due to the higher probability of dissolution,” she elaborated.

Mental Health and distress
Social Norms set for men is another reason for poor mental health. Pixabay

The study also showed a disparity in the way husbands and wives assessed their own psychological distress and that of their partner.

Survey respondents were asked to measure distress in terms of feeling sad, nervous, restless, hopeless, worthless, or that everything was an effort. Men reported better mental health than their wives reported on their behalf.

“This too may be down to gender norms. If masculine social roles preclude the admission of vulnerability, and men are inclined to hide symptoms of stress and depression, it follows that wives’ responses (about their spouses) will be less accurate,” said Dr Syrda.

In fact, wives reported their husbands’ lowest distress level was when they were contributing 50 per cent of the household income, while husbands reported lowest distress when their wives contributed 40 per cent.

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“With masculinity closely associated with the conventional view of the male breadwinner, traditional social gender norms mean men may be more likely to experience psychological distress if they become the secondary earner in the household or become financially dependent on their wives, a finding that has implications for managing male mental health and society’s understanding of masculinity itself,” the researchers elaborated.

The fact that a wife observes to a lesser degree her husband’s elevated psychological distress when he is financially dependent on her may be simply because he does not communicate it — this may be yet another manifestation of gender norms, showed the findings published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. (IANS)