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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Unborn children may be affected by mother's stress

31 May 2007

A study by researchers at Imperial College, London, has found that unborn children may be affected by their mothers' stress levels from 17 weeks' gestation. The research, published in Clinical Endocrinology, found a correlation between levels of the cortisol stress hormone in the maternal blood and in the foetus' amniotic fluid from 17 weeks, the correlation growing stronger as the pregnancy advanced. Previous work suggests a link between high maternal cortisol levels and a lower infant IQ. Claire Friars of Tommy's, the baby charity, said: "It is vital that pregnant women are given adequate support and reassurance from their family, friends and employers, to ensure they have a happy and healthy pregnancy". [Channel 4, 31 May and Times, 31 May]

The International Planned Parenthood Federation, one of the world's largest abortion promoters, has published a report claiming that 1.2 million Brazilian women have been hospitalized as a result of illegal abortions in the last five years. The report claims there are five maternal deaths from unsafe illegal abortions for every 100,000 live births. The federation's report follows a call by Brazil's health minister to open a debate on the legalization of abortion. [Reuters, 31 May] Supporters of legal abortion have frequently greatly exaggerated the extent of illegal abortion.

Lord Winston, professor of fertility studies at Imperial College, London, has accused the IVF industry in the UK of being corrupt, and the regulatory Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority of failing to protect couples from exploitation. "One of the major problems facing us in healthcare is that IVF has become a massive commercial industry," he said. "It's very easy to exploit people by the fact that they're desperate and you've got the technology which they want, which may not work." [Guardian, 31 May]

Members of the US Congress are planning to introduce legislation that would allow federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. President Bush has previously vetoed such legislation, and his opponents have so far failed to achieve the two-thirds majority needed to override the veto. [Guardian, 30 May]

An Iranian study has found that taking iron supplements while pregnant, if the mother is not anaemic, could increase the risk of high blood pressure and inhibit the baby's growth. The UK Food Standards Agency advises women to maintain iron levels through iron-rich foods rather than supplements. [Sky, 31 May]

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