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 July 21, 2003
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Unhappy Mom, Smaller Baby?
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ATLANTA (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Does happiness in pregnancy mean protection against having a low birth weight baby?

Not according to a new study from researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Their look at a group of California mothers found no significant link between a mother's intent to become pregnant, her happiness about having a baby, or her sense of maternal control and the birth weight of her child.

Babies who are born too small are divided into two categories. There are preterm infants who are born early and have not had enough time to grow to normal size, and there are babies who are born full term but small who are said to have intrauterine growth restriction, or IUGR. Regardless of the category they fall into, these infants have many of the same problems, including increased incidence of respiratory problems, seizures, and learning disabilities. Studies have identified numerous risk factors for having a low birth weight baby, including younger age, less education, smoking, and poor nutrition, but these factors have not been able to explain all of the increased risk. Therefore, some researchers have suggested maternal outlook could play a role.

In this study, investigators analyzed data from a survey aimed at finding out how mothers felt about their pregnancies to determine if maternal outlook played a role in the birth weight of their infants. While results initially suggested mothers with low or average sense of control were more likely than those with high sense of control to have babies with IUGR, further analysis revealed no significant association between the two. The mothers' intent to become pregnant and her happiness about having a child played no role in the subsequent development of IUGR in their infants.

This article was reported by Ivanhoe.com, who offers Medical Alerts by e-mail every day of the week. To subscribe, go to: http://www.ivanhoe.com/newsalert/.

SOURCE: Pediatrics, 2003;111:1171-1175

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