Baby girls exposed to stress could be prone to anxiety in their teen years

A new study is suggesting that if baby girls grow up in households with stressed-out moms, they're more likely to suffer from anxiety and other mental health problems as teenagers. While I'm not too surprised, I am fairly worried because I feel like I spend the majority of my day being stressed out about one thing or the other. That's why, I must say, I read the study's findings, published in the journal Nature Neuroscience on Sunday, with some trepidation.

More than anything, I wanted to know what kind of stress the study was talking about because I feel like pretty much everyone I know is under a lot of stress on a regular basis. Turns out it's pretty much any kind of stress you can imagine: from parenting frustrations and marital friction to financial problems and depression. 


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According to University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers, who've been following a group of almost 60 children since the early 90s, the more stress baby girls were exposed to in their first year of life, the higher their levels of the stress hormone cortisol when they were 4-year-olds. As they grew older, these girls were more prone to anxiety than those who grew up in stress-free households. 

The craziest thing about the study, though, is that boys were not affected at all in the same way girls were, regardless of the levels of stress they were exposed to as infants — a detail that only made me feel even worse for my poor daughter.

So, what now? I guess this study should give moms--and dads--an even bigger reasons to look for ways to relieve stress on a regular basis. If not for their own well-being, for that of their innocent children. 

Image via Thinkstock

Topics: mental health  depression  anxiety  teen issues