Pregnancy is a beautiful phase but there are many precautions that the to-be-mother should take in order to ensure the healthy development of her child. The study is first of its kind to link preconception maternal stress to the risk of atopic eczema in the child. Eczema is a condition which is defined as inflammation of the skin, leading to rashes, itchiness and even blisters.
The researchers believe the findings support the concept that eczema partly originates as a baby develops in the womb and could reveal ways of reducing the risk of the skin condition. They assessed the stress levels of women before pregnancy and around 3,000 babies at six and 12 months for eczema.
"We know that maternal stress can release certain hormones that can have an effect on the baby's immune response, leading to an increased risk in conditions like eczema," said Dr Sarah El-Heis, the study's lead researcher.
"More than one in six women of the mothers in the Southampton Women's Survey reported that stress affected their health quite a lot or extremely - our analyses showed that their infants had a 20 percent higher likelihood of developing atopic eczema at age 12 months when compared with the remainder of the study cohort," added Dr El-Heis.