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Study: Hurricanes Cause Birth Complications in Women

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Hurricanes are stressful for everyone, but new research suggests that they may have surprising and worrisome effects on pregnant women. According to a working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research, women who lived near the path of a tropical storm or hurricane during their pregnancy were likelier to experience complications during childbirth.

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Janet Currie of Princeton University and Maya Rossin Slater of Columbia University studied Texas birth records from 1996 to 2008 to see whether a mother's stress levels would have an effect on pregnancy. The researchers argued that stress was the most significant side-effect of living through a storm. But while they did not find a relationship between living through a stressful event and gestation or birth weight, they did discover that mothers who lived within 19 miles of a hurricane path during their third trimester were 60% more likely to have a newborn with health complications and 30% more likely to have complications during labor or delivery.

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Newborns were more likely to have health complications if their mothers were in the first or third trimester at the time of the hurricane. These complications include meconium aspiration syndrome—a condition in which a newborn breathes in a mixture of stool and amniotic fluid during delivery—and being on a ventilator for more than 30 minutes. Experiencing a storm during the second trimester did not have any apparent impact on a newborn's health.

Were you pregnant during a hurricane? Did you experience any complications during childbirth? Leave a comment and let us know.

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