Here's one more reason why women should not overly stress themselves, especially in their 20s. A joint study by the University College London and the Zhejang University has found that stress levels in their 20s could affect women's risks for miscarriage by up to 42 percent.

Miscarriage, or spontaneous pregnancy loss before 24 weeks of gestation, is a most common complication among expectant mothers. It occurs in about 20 percent of pregnancies and in 12 to 15 percent of clinically recognized pregnancies. But researchers are warning there could be more. 

In a meta-analysis, researchers found that long-time stress experienced by women in their early adulthood may impact on the outcome of their pregnancy in the future.

"A history of exposure to psychological stress can increase the risk of miscarriage by up to 42 percent," the study authors said.

The team conducted a study of literature from eight studies suitable to the subject matter of women reporting miscarriage with or without a history of psychological stress.

"The researchers found that the risk of miscarriage was significantly higher in women with a history of exposure to psychological stress," the results suggested, and cited emotional trauma, social problems, financial problems, marital/partnership disharmony, work pressure and significant change as among the stress factors. 

The results remained the same after the researchers controlled the type of stress found, and several other factors. 

The link, they noted, could be because of the activation and release of stress hormones which impacted the biochemical pathways in pregnancy. 

"While chromosomal abnormalities underlie many cases of early pregnancy loss, the results of this meta-analysis support the belief that a high level of psychological stress before and during pregnancy is also associated with miscarriage. The present results show that these psychological factors could increase the risk by approximately 42 percent," explained Dr Brenda Todd, one of the authors and a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Psychology, University College of London. 

Nevertheless, the researchers called for additional studies in the area to assess the findings in various contexts. 

"Our review also highlights the need to include a structured psychological assessment in early pregnancy into routine antenatal care," they added. MIMS

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