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Stressed Mothers Usually Give Birth to Babies Who Get Bullied in School

Update Date: Nov 16, 2012 06:43 AM EST

According to researchers from the University of Warwick, babies born to mothers who take a lot of stress during pregnancy are more likely to be bullied in school.

Taking stress during pregnancy not only affects the mother, but also the child, a new study conducted by researchers from the University of Warwick has found. According to this study, babies born to mothers who take a lot of stress during pregnancy are more likely to be bullied in school.

The study was carried out on 8,829 children from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC).

Professor Dieter Wolke, professor of Developmental Psychology at the University of Warwick and Warwick Medical School led the study along with a few other colleagues.

In a report published on Science Daily he said, "This is the first study to investigate stress in pregnancy and a child's vulnerability to being bullied. When we are exposed to stress, large quantities of neurohormones are released into the blood stream and in a pregnant woman this can change the developing fetus' own stress response system."

"Changes in the stress response system can affect behaviour and how children react emotionally to stress such as being picked on by a bully. Children who more easily show a stress reaction such as crying, running away, anxiety are then selected by bullies to home in to."

The causes for this stress were found to be of various types, said the researchers. They could appear in the form of severe family problems, such as financial difficulty or alcohol/drug abuse, and maternal mental health.

"The whole thing becomes a vicious cycle, a child with an altered stress response system is more likely to be bullied, which affects their stress response even further and increases the likelihood of them developing mental health problems in later life," Wolke added.

The findings were published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. 

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