COVID-19 stress will lead to a generation of smaller babies — scientists

It’s nerve-wracking enough being pregnant in a pandemic but now scientists are claiming that the chronic stress caused by the coronavirus may lead to a wave of babies being born smaller.

Researchers at the University of Loughborough in England analysed eight studies involving more than 8,200 pregnant women and over a million children.

They found stress during pregnancy was significantly linked to lower birth weight. This is defined as a weight of less than 5lbs 8oz for a full-term baby. 

Professor Barry Bogin, a biological anthropologist, was behind the new research with a colleague in Spain.

He reviewed several previous studies to predict how COVID-19 may impact the birth weight of the next generation.

Each study was a ‘biocultural’ study, one that considers how social and emotional factors interact and impact human biology. 

Writing in the American Journal of Human Biology, Professor Bogin and co-author Dr Carlos Varea said the coronavirus may see an expecting mother go from “happy and joyful to fearful and concerned”. 

And although they predict that it will take two or more generations’ to understand exactly how the COVID-19 will affect babies to come. 

But they were able to hypothesize “The immediate future there will be a global rise in maternal emotional stress and a decline in birth weight.”

Being born small can cause long-term problems. And it’s been linked to poor school performance, being overweight as an adult, and an earlier death.