Low birth weight or stress during pregnancy can lead to long-term health problems in women, according to a study published today in The Journal of Physiology.
The study found that stress during pregnancy leads to long-term health issues in mothers, affecting adrenal, metabolic and cardio-renal health after pregnancy.
Jean Ni Cheong, from The University of Melbourne, and the PhD student leading the study, said it was known that being born of low birth weight or experiencing stress during pregnancy increased the risks of pregnancy complications.
"We know that women born with a low birth weight do not adapt as well to pregnancy and have higher risks of developing various complications, and experiencing stress can also induce these complications," Ms Cheong said.
"But little is understood about how experiencing stress during pregnancy and having been born with a low birth weight affect mothers for the rest of their lives."
Previous research has shown that a low maternal birth weight and exposure to stress are very common during pregnancy and can lead to poor health outcomes in children. Ms Cheong said her research explored what these could also mean to the health of a mother post pregnancy.