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Is preconception perceived stress a risk factor for low birth weight?


This study examines the relationship between preconception levels of perceived stress and low birth weight for first time mothers using population-based data. Low birth weight puts an infant at risk of adverse outcomes including neonatal death, growth retardation and behavioural problems. While a number of modifiable risk factors for low birth weight have been identified (including smoking and poor nutrition), recent evidence suggests that stress may play a role in poor obstetric outcomes. Perceived stress experienced during pregnancy has been associated with very low birth weight; however little is known about the impact of perceived stress levels experienced prior to pregnancy on low birth weight. The findings will inform the development of future intervention and prevention strategies.