Study finds link between poor mothers and underweight babies

Posted at 12:30 AM, May 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-11 00:30:16-04

(RNN) - Sickly, underweight babies might be born to financially strapped mothers partly because of the stress of meeting the little ones' needs, a new study suggests.  

Researchers at The Ohio State University published their study in the journal Archives of Women's Mental Health

"It is important for all women who experience pregnancy-related stress to seek out help coping with that stress," said Amanda Mitchell, the lead researcher, in a news release

Health problems often cause underweight babies to spend their first weeks in intensive care. In the United States, at birth about eight percent of babies are underweight, defined as below 5 lbs and 8 ozs. 

Mitchell said meditation and breathing exercises are among the potential low-cost, stress-reduction techniques that could help reduce the risk of having medically vulnerable infants. 

Researchers studied 138 pregnant women in a racially diverse group from 2013 to 2015 who were between five and 31 weeks pregnant and averaged 29 years of age. 

The researchers tried to determine the specific factors that link poor pregnant moms with a higher likelihood of having smaller babies with more health problems.

In the study, the mothers were asked to respond to three questions: 

  • How difficult is it for you to live on your total household income right now?
  • In the next two months, how likely is it that you and your family will experience actual hardships, such as inadequate housing, food or medical attention?
  • How likely is it that you and your family will have to reduce your standard of living to the bare necessities of life?

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