Photo: willemvelthoven via flickr
The struggling economy has now proven to affect much more than our bank accounts — it’s making our babies smaller, according to a new research published in the journal Epidemiology (via the DailyFinance).Researchers from the University of California at Berkeley spent nearly 20 years sampling approximately 7,000 births in the U.S. and found that when the economy took a downward spiral worst than expected, so does the size of newborns.
The effect is most severe during the pregnancy’s first trimester with babies averaging 3.7% smaller in size than normal. In other words, if the economy takes a plunge during the first three months of pregnancy, your baby is most affected. This could be attributed to the fact that maternal stress response is most significant to the health of her baby during this period.
The study reported:
Unexpected economic contraction during early pregnancy may be associated with reduced fetal growth. Exposure in the first trimester was associated with a 3.7 percentile point decrease in birth weight for gestational age. This association appeared stronger for women “keeping house” or with [less than] 12 years education.
But babies being born smaller than normal affects more than mere size since “fetal growth is an important predictor of health later in life” and smaller babies have higher chances of an “increased risk of neonatal and infant morbidity and mortality. Later in life, they face an increased risk for obesity, diabetes and heart disease,” says Claire Margerison-Zilko, a co-researcher of the study.
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