Social Support During Pregnancy May Affect Birth Weight
conducted by a group of researchers at the University of California at
Los Angeles and the University of California at Irvine revealed an
infant's birth weight may directly be affected by the amount of social
support the mother receives during her pregnancy.
critical that psychosocial risk factors that contribute to low birth
weight and fetal restriction are identified — especially given
the implications for infant morbidity and mortality, healthcare costs
and parenting stress," said lead author of the study Pamela Feldman,
Ph.D., of the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at
University College London.
researchers interviewed nearly 250 pregnant women, asking them if the
baby's father would support them financially and otherwise with the
child, if their parents would support them, and if they had friends
around for support and assistance.
colleagues found that those women with several sources of support
during pregnancy had higher birth weight infants. And, the relationship
between social support and birth weight remained even after the
researchers took into account other factors often associated with low
birth weight — premature delivery, history of stillbirth or
spontaneous abortion, and such medical conditions as hypertension or
support is an important predictor of birth weight is emphasized by the
finding that it predicts birth weight independently but to the same
extent as these well-known medical determinants of birth weight," said
previous studies support the idea that stress contributes to premature
birth through its effect on the nervous system, further research is
needed to determine if social support affects fetal growth and
subsequent birth weight similarly, she said.
found that social support also may inspire healthier behaviors and
lifestyles for pregnant women, discouraging such behaviors as smoking,
substance use and poor nutritional intake. And, further results
indicated that pregnant women with a higher degree of social support
may be more likely to receive treatment for diseases associated with
low infant birth weight, such as high blood pressure, heart disease and
sickle cell disease.
researchers concluded that further studies need to be performed to
determine the best ways to support those women with less access to
social support during pregnancy, and who are at higher risk for having
a lower birth weight infant.