JAN 13, 2024 9:38 AM PST

Preconception stress levels' impact on high glucose levels during pregnancy

WRITTEN BY: Greta Anne

By now, it is fairly common knowledge that stress to a mother during pregnancy results in stress to the baby - but what about preconception stress? And what are some quantifiable examples of this? A study published in the Journal of the Endocrine Society investigated the relationship between preconception stress and glucose levels in pregnancy. The Environment and Reproductive Health (EARTH) Study offered valuable insights into the potential impact of psychological stress on maternal health during pregnancy.

The study implemented the Perceived Stress Scale 4 (PSS-4) to gauge preconception stress levels. The median PSS-4 score was 5, reflecting a moderate level of perceived stress. Further, the assessment of pregnancy blood glucose levels one hour after a 50g glucose load provided crucial data of how the body metabolizes glucose, with a high glucose level indicating the body is not properly metabolizing glucose. Roughly 21% of women exhibited abnormal gestational glucose levels (≥140 mg/dL) post glucose load.

The core findings of the study underscored a positive association between higher preconception stress levels and elevated mean glucose levels during pregnancy. Further analyses also revealed that the positive association between stress and abnormal glucose levels was more pronounced amongst women who conceived using intrauterine insemination (IUI). This observation suggests a potential connection between the stress experienced during fertility treatments, particularly IUI, and adverse glucose outcomes during pregnancy.

The study also explored how socioeconomic factors may impact the relationship between preconception stress and pregnancy glucose levels. The association between stress and glucose levels was notably stronger among women with a college degree and those with a census-tract median annual household income exceeding $100,000. 

The EARTH Study contributes valuable evidence to the limited literature on the association between preconception stress and pregnancy serum glucose levels. The findings emphasize the importance of considering the preconception period as a critical window for assessing stress's impact on maternal health during pregnancy. This study opens the window for additional studies on preconception factors that may have health impacts on women during pregnancy itself. 

Sources: Journal of the Endocrine Society

About the Author
Bachelor's (BA/BS/Other)
Greta is currently a writer at Labroots and a 3rd year Doctor of Pharmacy student, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Physiology and Neurobiology. Innovation is her passion, especially when it comes to pharma, entrepreneurship, science, and art. She is hoping to pursue a career in pharma while also fostering her creative initiatives.
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