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The Fear of Terrorism Can Hurt Your Unborn Child

You may recall an article I wrote a year ago about the spread of terrorism and all the problems it can cause, based on waiting for the next shoe, or bomb, to drop. Because this worried-about event never actually happens, however, it can create needless, ongoing worry that can affect your health badly as life goes on.

A new study of 38 pregnant mothers certainly bears this out: Researchers found women who witnessed the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center passed the stress they felt to their babies. The mothers surveyed generally had low levels of the stress hormone cortisol -- a marker of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) -- as well as their babies. Also, these hormonal changes were most apparent in mothers carrying their babies during their last trimester when 9/11 occurred.

Often, the transmission of trauma, according to one scientist, has been linked to the way mothers communicate those experiences to their children. But because babies were tested when they were 1, scientists believe this transfer of trauma can be attributed to such factors as early parent-child bonding, shared genetic susceptibility and even the presence of cortisol in the womb.

Just as good a time as any to remind you, stress is a part of our daily lives. You certainly can't eliminate it, short of living in a cave. And, as this study demonstrates all too well, how well you deal with the effects of stress or don't can be profoundly felt by others. Rather than wait for a toxic miracle pill that will erase all those unpleasant memories you'd rather forget, consider these far more effective, safer and healthier alternatives:

Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism May 3, 2005

BBC News May 3, 2005

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