Q: I tend to be a worrier, especially about my pregnancy. Is it possible that my anxiety could affect the baby?
A: Perhaps it can, according to two recent studies. A British survey of more than 14,000 moms found that babies born to women who were deemed clinically anxious during pregnancy were 40 percent more likely to have such sleep problems as trouble falling asleep or waking too early at 6, 18 and 30 months of age. The second study, on more than 1,800 women, found that women with excessive levels of anxiety about pregnancy, such as worrying about nausea and bleeding and fearing labor and delivery, had a significantly greater risk of preterm birth--nearly three times higher--than moms-to-be who didn't worry all that much. Thomas O'Connor, Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York and a lead author of the first study, urges pregnant women to discuss any prenatal anxieties with their doctor, who may refer them for counseling to help allay concerns.