Nav: Home

Stress during pregnancy

June 07, 2016

The environment the unborn child is exposed to inside the womb can have a major effect on her or his development and future health. Maternal stress during pregnancy can be transmitted biologically to the unborn child. A team of researchers, led by Prof. Dr. Sonja Entringer from the Institute of Medical Psychology at Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, is starting a new study about the potential effects of stress during pregnancy on newborn cell biology, with a focus on cellular aging. A European Research Council grant of €1.48 million will provide the support necessary to develop and expand this research group over the next five years.

Stress experienced by a mother during pregnancy can impact her unborn child's development and can have a lasting impact on physiological mechanisms. This, in turn, can have major and long-lasting implications for future health and developing age-related diseases. Aging-related disorders occur, by definition, with advancing age, and result from accumulation over the life course of the detrimental effects of adverse exposures. Prof. Entriger and her research team are pursuing a different perspective: "Changes in the processes associated with cellular aging, as well as the mechanisms that control them, may have their origins in the womb," explains Prof. Entringer. "Conditions within the womb, which are affected by a plethora of different factors -- including stress -- could thus have a substantial impact on the unborn child's development," says the specialist in psychobiology.

For a number of years, Prof. Entringer's work has been focusing on the links between stress-related processes and a person's risk of developing different diseases. In this context, telomere biology and cellular aging have been a mechanism of particular interest. A new study, which will follow 350 mother and child pairs from early pregnancy through birth and over the child's first year of life, will focus on psychological and physiological factors, as well as data on the mother's day-to-day behavior during pregnancy, which will be recorded using a smartphone app. Prof. Entringer summarizes as follows: "We need a better understanding of the molecular biology and epigenetic pathways that connect maternal stress exposure with an increased risk of disease in the next generation. A better understanding of these mechanisms could open up new perspectives, which, in turn, could increase the accuracy of clinical diagnosis and the development of preventative and interventional measures. Such measures could then be used early on in the child's prenatal development, well before the appearance of symptoms of disease."
ERC Starting Grant

The European Research Council provides support for young research scientists as part of 'Horizon 2020', the EU's 8th 'Framework Porgramme for Research'. Formal completion of the grant agreement means that the research group at Charité's Institute of Medical Psychology will have access to a total of €1.48 million in funding (Grant Agreement n°678073).


Prof. Dr. Sonja Entringer
Institute of Medical Psychology
Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin
Tel: 49 (30) 450 529 216


Institute of Medical Psychology

Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin

Related Stress Articles:

Measuring stress around cells
Tissues and organs in the human body are shaped through forces generated by cells, that push and pull, to ''sculpt'' biological structures.
Cellular stress at the movies
For the first time, biological imaging experts have used a custom fluorescence microscope and a novel antibody tagging tool to watch living cells undergoing stress.
Maternal stress at conception linked to children's stress response at age 11
A new study published in the Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease finds that mothers' stress levels at the moment they conceive their children are linked to the way children respond to life challenges at age 11.
A new way to see stress -- using supercomputers
Supercomputer simulations show that at the atomic level, material stress doesn't behave symmetrically.
Beware of evening stress
Stressful events in the evening release less of the body's stress hormones than those that happen in the morning, suggesting possible vulnerability to stress in the evening.
More Stress News and Stress Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Rethinking Anger
Anger is universal and complex: it can be quiet, festering, justified, vengeful, and destructive. This hour, TED speakers explore the many sides of anger, why we need it, and who's allowed to feel it. Guests include psychologists Ryan Martin and Russell Kolts, writer Soraya Chemaly, former talk radio host Lisa Fritsch, and business professor Dan Moshavi.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#537 Science Journalism, Hold the Hype
Everyone's seen a piece of science getting over-exaggerated in the media. Most people would be quick to blame journalists and big media for getting in wrong. In many cases, you'd be right. But there's other sources of hype in science journalism. and one of them can be found in the humble, and little-known press release. We're talking with Chris Chambers about doing science about science journalism, and where the hype creeps in. Related links: The association between exaggeration in health related science news and academic press releases: retrospective observational study Claims of causality in health news: a randomised trial This...