Pregnant Survivors of 9/11 May Have Passed Trauma on to Their Babies

baby bumpAs many of us sit and reflect today on the 11th anniversary of 9/11, most of us can easily recall where we were and what we were doing at the precise moment when we heard the news that America was under attack. And while the events of that day impacted us all in one way or another, many of the victims who somehow managed to survive the attack on the World Trade Center are still feeling negative effects to this day -- even if they were babies in their mothers' wombs at the time.

A new study has found that pregnant women who suffered PTSD after 9/11 passed the trauma on to their children. Since there were so many reported cases of expectant moms experiencing trauma after 9/11, researchers at the Traumatic Stress Studies Division at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York decided to try and find out if the stress of the day's events might somehow impact their babies.


And what they found was nothing short of astonishing. Moms who suffered from PTSD after 9/11 had lower levels of cortisol in their saliva than women who did not develop the disorder. And believe it or not, the children of the PTSD moms were found to have lower cortisol levels as well, especially those whose mothers were in their third trimester when the World Trade Center attack happened.

The research also showed that the children have an increased distress response as a result of their mothers having PTSD after the incident.

And I guess the results of this study really shouldn't come as a huge surprise, since a mother and her baby are incredibly connected right from the beginning of pregnancy. It does seem likely that an unborn baby would be able to tune into whatever emotions and feelings his mother experiences, especially if she goes through a traumatic event where her physical reactions (such as breathing) are heightened.

But while this research may not be shocking, it's still very saddening. So many people were simply going about their daily routines on that fateful morning and just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time -- and will be traumatized for the rest of their lives because of it. And since the first thing on every pregnant woman's mind is making sure her baby is safe and sound, the thought of a child inheriting the negative effects of that day is heartbreaking at best.

Do you ever worry about passing on stress to your baby?


Image via genue.luben/Flickr

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