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The impact of the 2011 Queensland floods on pregnant women and their babies is being realised, thanks to a new study which has discovered stress from natural disasters affects a baby’s development and temperament.
Researchers from Mater Research Institute—University of Queensland (MRI-UQ) have found that women pregnant in early 2011, who had the most significant emotional response to the disaster, had infants with the most difficult temperaments.
The study was led by Professor of Midwifery Sue Kildea, who holds a joint appointment with Mater Research and UQ’s School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work.
Thanks to community support, Mater Foundation made a significant contribution to the project through its funding of Professor Kildea’s role as Mater’s Chair of Midwifery when the study commenced.
The 2011 Queensland Floods study team found varying effects in the children involved—from fetal stress on infant development at six months of age.
“Higher levels of hardship in pregnancy resulted in boys receiving more irritable temperament rating than girls,” Professor Kildea said.
“Difficult temperament traits early in life are related to later mental health and childhood behaviour problems.”
Mater Foundation Chief Executive Officer Nigel Harris said the study was incredibly significant not only for Queenslanders, but the rest of the country, given the prevalence of natural disasters in Australia.
“It’s pleasing for Mater Foundation to help support research projects like this, that will benefit families who experience trauma during natural disasters, such as the 2011 floods.”
For more information on the study click here.