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HHS HealthBeat (December 31, 2012)

Expectant stress

A surprised baby holds a spoon.

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From the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, I’m Ira Dreyfuss with HHS HealthBeat.

Working on the relationship is even more important when a baby is on the way. And a study of stress in expectant parents indicates men and women react differently to stress.

Penn State researcher Mark Feinberg had 138 expectant couples discuss things bothering them. He measured the stress hormone cortisol before, right after, and 20 minutes after the discussion.

More hostile discussions raised stress hormone levels in men, but not in women. So Feinberg says:

“Instead of blaming and criticizing each other, it would be great for couples to understand that each person may be hardwired differently, and what is helpful for one person can be very stressful for another.”

The study in the British Journal of Psychology was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

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HHS HealthBeat is a production of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. I’m Ira Dreyfuss.

Last revised: December 31, 2012