Money stress during pregnancy affects baby's health

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Money stress during pregnancy affects baby's health. Ali Gorman reports during Action News at 5 p.m. on May 11, 2017. (WPVI)

A growing family is a blessing, but, it can also bring financial strain.

Now a new study shows that money worries can affect a baby's health.

Researchers at Ohio State University asked pregnant women about various stressors, and noticed a link between anxiety over finances, and low birth-weight babies.

"It wasn't just the income of the household that was driving this effect. It was actually the perception of your ability to meet your expenses," says Lisa Christian, Ph.D., Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

"Diapers, formula, strollers, car seats, wipes, clothing, all those things really add up, and they really, they can be quite stressful," say Jacquie Susie, a mother of two.

Dr. Christian and her research partner Amanda Mitchell, Ph.D., found it's very common to worry about money before a baby arrives, because the new addition will mean changes to the family unit.

However, low birth-weight can lead to serious long-term health problems, including respiratory and digestive issues, obesity, and heart disease.

Experts say women who feel overwhelmed should create a financial plan, reach out to friends and family for help, and find ways to cope, such as exercise, meditation, or support groups.

Drs. Christian and Mitchell will continue to explore exactly how stress affects a pregnant woman's body and how that is biologically transferred to her baby.
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