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Stress during pregnancy affects baby’s size

Raghu Kshitiz

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WASHINGTON — Stress during pregnancy affects the size of the new born baby, a new study by the University of New Mexico has found which suggests babies are physically affected by the stress level of their mother during pregnancy.

Scientists have discovered that stress speeds up growth at the start of a woman’s term — but slows it down if it happens towards the end.

It has been previously found that adversity in the womb enhances or hampers offspring development and performance of offspring. But this new study offers the clearest explanation to date as to why there appears to be a correlation between certain mental health issues and birth weight.

Researchers from the Universities of New Mexico, Gottingen and German Primate Center, have proposed a hypothesis that largely predicts why there are highly variable patterns in the growth rates of disadvantaged offspring across 719 studies on 21 mammal species.

The findings, that appears in the Journal of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, indicate that that stress during late gestation reduces offspring growth during dependence, resulting in a reduced body size throughout development, whereas stress during early gestation results in largely-unaffected growth rates during dependence, but accelerated growth and increased size after weaning.

Lead study author Andreas Berghanel says that the idea is that prenatal stress affected an offspring in two different ways depending on the timing of the stressor during pregnancy — yielding different outcomes before birth, after birth, and after weaning.

“We found that stress during late gestation reduces offspring growth during dependence, resulting in a reduced body size throughout development, whereas stress during early gestation results in largely unaffected growth rates during dependence but accelerated growth and increased size after weaning,” Berghanel says .

Berghanel states that prenatal maternal stress late in gestation causes mothers to invest less energy in their newborn, which leads to slower growth in the womb and during infancy, but doesn’t affect growth later.

By contrast, prenatal maternal stress early in gestation additionally causes the foetus to be entirely reprogrammed to deal with a reduced life expectancy.

This new comparative study finds all of these predictions are supported in a large sample of studies that each measured the effects of prenatal stress on size and growth of newborn compared to an unchallenged control group.

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26 rhinos die in a year in CNP

Gorkha Post

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CHITWAN — Chitwan National Park (CNP) witnessed zero poaching of endangered one-horned rhinoceros in the fiscal year 2074/75. But the death of the rhinos by natural causes has increased recently, as the park has lost a total of 26 rhinos to various causes in this period.

26 rhinos died from various reasons including natural disaster in the period, according to the CNP information officer, Nurendra Aryal.

Four rhinos were killed in flood-related incidents with two caught in a marsh caused by the flooding while two were swept away by flood waters, he informed.

Fighting, delivery complications (in case of some female rhinos) and aging are other reasons behind the deaths of a noticeable number of this endangered wildlife last fiscal year. Three female rhinos succumbed to child delivery complications in this period. They died after failing to give birth to their babies.

The park however has recorded no case of rhino poaching since April 8, 2017.However, the number of rhino deaths due to other reasons was slightly up in the year compared to the previous year, according to the CNP Information Officer Aryal.

This figure is followed by 25 and 15 rhino deaths in previous two fiscal years respectively.

The natural causes led to the death of 24 rhinos in the fiscal year 2073/74 and 15 in 2072/73.

The need of a study was felt to seek potential ways for minimising the death risk among rhinos with their death toll increasing every year, CNP chief conservation officer, Bed Kumar Dhakal said. A squad from the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation has already begun a study to this end.

The CNP latest details mentioned about 605 rhinos here.

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