25,000 women were included in the study. In families where one partner has lost a job, a pregnant woman is more likely to have a low birth weight baby. If both partners (or obviously if she is a single, unemployed mom) are unemployed, the chance is even greater. A pregnant woman may eat less from stress even if there is plenty of food, may insist that her other children eat more while limiting her own intake or may just not have enough to eat. There could also be the other end of the spectrum, in which too many empty calories are consumed because the food is cheaper per calorie than nutritious food.
Additionally, stress can impede the immune system and can lead to preterm labor and birth & thus low birthweights.
According to this source:
"For pregnant women, stress is a risk factor for preterm delivery, very low infant birthweight (less than 1500 grams, or 3.3 lbs.), and subsequent infant illness.Something to think about for those of us who work in birth, certainly, but really for all of us to consider.
Stress is thought to play a role in inducing preterm labor by its debilitating effect on the immune system. An economically stress-weakened woman may be less able to fight infection during the course of her pregnancy, a condition that increases her risk of premature delivery.
Very low birthweight infants account for just 1.2 percent of births. However, very low birthweight accounts for 64.3 percent of infant deaths in the US, according to the study. The results of the research appear in the December issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior."