It is said that if you want to decode the mysteries of life, observe Nature.  A recent scientific study of the effects of a 2005 earthquake on pregnant women in Chile may have proven that point. Researchers Florencia Torche and Karine Kleinhaus examined how acute stress during pregnancy can have a negative impact on how long it lasts and whether it affected the ratio of male to female births.  They discovered that the effects of an earthquake during the second and third month of pregnancy resulted in preterm labor and a decline in the number of births of boys. Pregnant women who lived in areas unaffected by the earthquake in Chile had longer pregnancies and did not experience a decrease in the birth of boys.

There are usually more male live births than females with a ratio of 51 to 49. For every 100 births, 51 will be boys however this was not the case in Chile. After the earthquake, the number of male births dropped to 45 per 100. A previous study found that male fetuses tended to grow larger than females, needed more resources from their mothers and would be more at risk of miscarriages if their mothers were under stress. Why are boys more at risk than girls? No one really knows. However what the study suggests is that an early stressful pregnancy could increase the risk of having a miscarriage, especially if the fetus is a boy.

Stress is an unwanted condition. Not only does it contribute to the development of disease, it can cause preterm labor. Dr. Calvin Hobel, a perinatologist from Cedar Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles refers to stress as the silent disease and has documented the negative effects it can have during pregnancy.  Hobel suggests that pregnant women need to be educated on the potential pitfalls of stress, especially premature labor.

Based on Kleinhaus and Torche’s study, all pregnant moms should try to minimize stress early in their pregnancy, especially if they’re having a boy.

Remember, a healthy pregnancy doesn’t just happen. It takes a smart mother who knows what to do.