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Miscarriage myths persist despite prevalence of medical information
Date:12/6/2007

COLUMBUS , Ohio More than a third of women surveyed about their beliefs surrounding miscarriage and birth defects said they thought that a pregnant woman's foul mood could negatively affect her baby.

One in four of these women thought a pregnant woman's exposure to upsetting situations could hurt her unborn child, and one in five believed excessive exercise could cause a woman to miscarry.

Despite those beliefs, relatively few of the women surveyed blamed mothers for a poor pregnancy outcome. Ten percent suggested pregnant women are responsible for their miscarriages, and 3 percent said mothers should be blamed for their babies' birth defects. Women with less formal education were more likely to hold mothers responsible for bad pregnancy outcomes.

The recent Ohio State University study points to the persistence of folklore surrounding pregnancy despite advances in medical interventions and evidence that most miscarriages and defects result from circumstances beyond a woman's control, said study author Jonathan Schaffir, a clinical assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Ohio State.

The survey shows that a sizable proportion of the population believes maternal thoughts and actions contribute to adverse fetal outcomes but despite these feelings, few assign responsibility to the mother, Schaffir said. I think it's kind of amazing that people out there still believe that a pregnant woman seeing something frightening could cause her baby to have a birthmark. That was an 18th-century belief and it's still circulating, even today.

I had a call not long ago, before Halloween, from a pregnant woman asking if it would be OK to go to a haunted house. I told her it was fine.

The study appears online in the journal Archives of Women's Mental Health.

Most miscarriages result from genetic or chromosomal abnormalities in the fetus, or from medical complications relating to hormonal imbalances o
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Contact: Jonathan Schaffir
Schaffir.1@osu.edu
614-293-9899
Ohio State University
Source:Eurekalert

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