Most of these things are beyond anyone's control and can happen to anyone, he said. In general, minor day-to-day experiences don't have an effect on whether a pregnancy is successful or not.
Exceptions, of course, would include the abuse of alcohol or drugs during pregnancy, which can lead to complications, he said.
Schaffir surveyed 200 women by circulating a questionnaire in the waiting area of a Midwestern obstetrics and gynecology clinic. He asked respondents to rate their level of agreement with common folk beliefs about prenatal influences on fetal outcomes, and whether or not respondents had a history of an adverse pregnancy outcome.
The folkloric beliefs the participants considered included whether a pregnant woman's stress, bad mood, viewing of upsetting TV programs or attending upsetting events, excessive exercise, unfulfilled food cravings, or exposure to ugly or frightening sights could have a negative effect on her unborn baby. An additional item for consideration was whether a baby's appearance is determined at conception. Two final entries gauged whether respondents thought miscarriages and birth defects should be blamed on mothers.
Six percent of respondents thought a mother's unfulfilled food cravings could have an adverse effect on a fetus and 5 percent believed a pregnant woman's exposure to a scary sight could hurt her unborn baby. Thirty-eight percent of the women surveyed believed that a baby's appearance is determined at conception. More than three-fourths (76 percent) of women believed stress could cause a bad pregnancy outcome.
Schaffir expected women who had miscarried or delivered a baby with serious birth defects to be more inclined to believe that they had somehow contributed to their misfortune. But the survey results did not support his expectation. Instead, the level of a woman's education appeared to affect her belief s
|Contact: Jonathan Schaffir|
Ohio State University