Study Says More Women Take Prescription Painkillers During Pregnancy
A child touches her pregnant mother's stomach at the last stages of her pregnancy in Bordeaux April 28, 2010. A January 2010 report indicates that life expectancy and fertility of French women are among the highest in Europe. Reuters/Regis Duvignau

New findings by researchers in Australia suggest that the children born to women who experience stressful events during pregnancy might be less coordinated in their body movements as teenagers.

According to the report, the "programmes aimed at detecting and reducing maternal stress during pregnancy" might improve the long-term outlook for these children, said Beth Hands, a professor of human movement at the University of Notre Dame in Australia.

Further, the researchers have examined the subjects' children and recorded the overall coordination as well as the ability to control body movements at three time points- when they were 10, 14 and 17 years old. The study concluded that the children of mothers who experienced fewer than three stressful events scored higher on the tests at all three time points than the children born to mothers who experienced three or more stressful events during their pregnancy.

Andrew Adesman, chief of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics at Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York in New Hyde Park, New York, said that even though the study cites the reason of mental stress in pregnant women and the effects on the children, it does not clearly states that or how the results of the tests might translate into real-life impacts for the participants.

The motor skills the researchers tested, such as the ability to stand on one foot, "may not necessarily matter much in life," Instead, it would be more interesting to learn whether stress was linked with coordination problems such as fastening buttons or riding a bicycle, said Adesman.

Moreover, stressful events that occurred in later pregnancy seemed to have a greater effect on the children's coordination than those that occurred earlier, the researchers said. This may be because later pregnancy coincides with the development of a brain region called the cerebellar cortex, involved in controlling movement, the researchers said.

Stressful events such as financial problems, a separation or divorce, death of a family member or a friend, might affect pregnancy said a Fox News report. While conducting the study, the doctors questioned 2,900 women in Australia twice during their pregnancies, at the 18 th week and the 34 th week, to find out whether they had experienced stressful incidents while they were pregnant. The study was published in the journal, “ Child Development ”.

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