Tag Archives: stress.

Stress in Early Pregnancy Linked to Fewer Baby Boys

Exposure to acute stress during early pregnancy could reduce a woman’s chances for delivering a baby boy and increase her risk for premature delivery.

Courtesy Flickr/paparutzi/Creative Commons License

Those are key findings from a study of how the 2005 Tarapaca earthquake in Chile– which was a magnitude 7.9 event – impacted pregnant women in the region. The findings, based on an analysis of birth certificates in Chile between 2004 and 2006, were reported online in the Dec. 7, 2011 issue of the journal Human Reproduction (Hum. Reprod. 2011 Dec. 7 [Epub doi: 10.1093/humrep/der390]).

“Generally, there are more male than female live births,” study coauthor Dr. Karine Kleinhaus, an assistant professor of psychiatry, obstetrics and gynecology, and environmental medicine at New York University, said in a statement. “The ratio of male to female births is approximately 51:49 — in other words, out of every 100 births, 51 will be boys. Our findings indicate a 5.8% decline in this proportion, which would translate into a ratio of 45 male births per 100 births, so that there are now more female than male births. This is a significant change for this type of measure.”

The finding supports previous research which found that male fetuses tend to grow larger than females and need more resources from the mother, and therefore are more likely to miscarry in times of stress. In addition, male fetuses may be less robust than females and may be less capable of adapting their development to a stressful environment in the womb.

”Our findings on a decreased sex ratio support this hypothesis and suggest that stress may affect the viability of male births,” said the study’s other coauthor, Florencia Torche, Ph.D, also of NYU. “In contrast, among female conceptions, stress exposure appears not to affect the viability of the conception but rather, the length of gestation.”

The study also revealed that women who experienced the earthquake during their second and third months of pregnancy had shorter pregnancies and were more likely to have premature babies.

— Doug Brunk

Image courtesy paparutzi’s photostream

Leave a comment

Filed under Family Medicine, IMNG, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Pediatrics

Can You Cure Baldness By Curbing Stress?

Plenty of evidence suggests that reducing chronic stress can improve health, but preliminary data in mice suggest that controlling chronic stress can help those inclined to baldness keep their hair. Dr. Lixin Wang of the University of California, Los Angeles, and colleagues observed the possible effects of blocking corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) receptors (one of many components of the body’s response to stress) in mice that were designed to over-expressed CRF, which happened to cause them to lose their hair as they aged (age being relative for a lab mouse).

courtesy of flickr user ilovememphis (creative commons)

According to a press release from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Health Sciences, the researchers were actually studying stress and gastrointestinal function, and they noticed hair regrowth as a side effect. “The fact that chronically stressed CRF-OE mice become alopecic in adulthood is reminiscent of human hair loss associated with stress,” the researchers noted.

They reported the findings (with great photos of the mice) this week in the online journal PLoS One. The researchers treated the stressed-out mice (some of which had already developed alopecia in response to chronic stress) with astressin-B, a long-acting peptide and nonselective CRF receptors antagonist. The mice were injected with 5 mcg of astressin-B daily for 5 days.

The mice with hair loss showed skin pigmentation (a sign of the onset of hair growth) within a week of the last injection, and showed no additional hair loss for the next two months. After four months, the mice still had 70% of their hair. In addition, younger stressed-out mice that hadn’t yet started to lose their hair did not lose any.

The researchers also tested astressin2-B. Mice treated with this selective CRF receptor antagonist showed some skin pigmentation after the injection, but still experienced hair loss.  Better than minoxidil? Once the researchers noticed the hair growth effect, they treated other stressed-out mice with minoxidil for 10 days for comparison. Hair growth scores increased, but these mice showed visibly less improvement than those given astressin-B.

Although the findings are preliminary, they suggest a new avenue of research for treating alopecia in humans, especially for individuals coping with acute traumatic events or chronic stresses such as chemotherapy, the researchers said. If nothing else, the findings suggest that the stressed-out mice could be a research model for additional studies of stress-related hair loss, the researchers noted.

New hope for hair loss? Stay tuned.

—Heidi Splete (on Twitter @hsplete)

6 Comments

Filed under Dermatology, Family Medicine, IMNG, Internal Medicine, Primary care, Psychiatry, The Mole

Survey Reveals Troubling Trends for Overweight Kids

The American Psychological Association released the 2010 Stress in America survey today, and it reveals some troubling trends for overweight children.

The survey, conducted online by Harris Interactive in August 2010, found that overweight children aged 8-17 years are significantly more likely to worry “a great deal” or “a lot,” compared with children of normal weight (31% vs. 14%, respectively). Overweight children also are significantly more likely than their normal-weight counterparts to report the way they look/their weight as something they worry about (36% vs. 11%).

To make matters worse, overweight children were significantly more likely than normal-weight children to report that in the past month they have experienced physical and emotional symptoms of stress such as trouble falling asleep (48% vs. 33%), headaches (43% vs. 28%), eating too much or too little (48% vs. 16%) or feeling angry or getting into fights (22% vs. 13%).

The impact of parental stress is also cause for concern. About 47% of children aged 8-12 years (tweens) say they feel sad and 43% of teens say they feel worried when their parents are stressed.

“America is at a critical crossroads when it comes to stress and our health,” psychologist Norman B. Anderson, Ph.D., APA’s CEO, said in a prepared statement. “Year after year nearly three-quarters of Americans say they experience stress at levels that exceed what they define as healthy, putting themselves at risk for developing chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes and depression. … All of us, including the medical community, need to take stress seriously since stress could easily become our next public health crisis.”

— Doug Brunk (on Twitter@dougbrunk)

Leave a comment

Filed under Family Medicine, Gastroenterology, IMNG, Pediatrics, Practice Trends, Primary care, Psychiatry