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Mothers' stress may impact on children
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Women who suffer emotional stress during pregnancy may have children with early learning difficulties, according to researchers at Shanghai Xinhua Hospital.

The experts made their conclusions based on experiments on animals using genetic technology.

It is the first time domestic researchers have used molecular biology in this manner.

"The experiment was conducted on rats," said Dr Yan Chonghuai, vice director of the Laboratory for Environment and Children's Health at Xinhua Hospital.

"Although the result is meaningful to all mammals, there are many differences between rats and human beings," Dr Yan pointed out.

"We will adapt the study to people in one or two years after working out a comprehensive plan," he added.

"We plan to select two groups with 100 children each to study their intelligence, mood and personality, and compare the influence of pressure during their mothers' pregnancy," Dr Yan explained.

In the trial study, pregnant rats were divided into two groups, one of which suffered psychological pressure by living in a very limited area.

"We found the offspring of those under pressure had poorer performance in a labyrinth test than those in the other group," said Yan.

The labyrinth test, where the animals have to find their way through a maze, is a common international standard for checking rats' intelligence.

Yan said that genetic technology has confirmed the genes of the mother rats under pressure had altered, and this was connected to the intelligence difference in their offspring.

(Shanghai Daily May 22, 2008)

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