Coronavirus: It’s important for pregnant women to stay healthy and positive

Dr. Suzanne King has studied how prenatal maternal stress during a natural disaster affects the developing fetus. (Allen McInnis / MONTREAL GAZETTE)

(Linda Gyulai/ The Gazette) — Stay healthy and stay positive.

To some, it may sound simplistic, even glib, as Canada fights the global COVID-19 pandemic. But the advice is important to women who are pregnant now, says a Montreal researcher who studies the effects of maternal stress on the developing fetus during natural disasters.

The main message to women who are pregnant — after the need to protect themselves from the new coronavirus — is to limit stress as much as possible, said Suzanne King, a professor of psychiatry at McGill University.

King has five ongoing studies evaluating the effects of exposure to maternal stress while in the womb during a natural disaster. Her research includes Project Ice Storm, which follows more than 180 children who were born after the 1998 ice storm. Her work found that children suffered some neurological impairment as a result of their prenatal exposure to acute stress. (…)

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