A new study (published in JAMA Psychiatry Oct 5, 2016) reveals that the more stressful the birth is on the baby, the higher the risk that baby has for developing Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) decades later.
Children who were born prematurely and children who experienced stress during delivery both had statistically significant increases in the rates of developing OCD during adolescence and young adulthood. Stressful birth circumstances included: maternal smoking during pregnancy, cesarean section delivery, preterm birth, low APGAR scores, unusually low or high birth weight, breech presentation at labor and more.
- Researchers looked at a 2.4 million population of births from 1973 to 1996 and followed these children through 2013.
- About 17,000 participants were diagnosed with OCD (average age of diagnosis: 23 years old)
- Cohort included 11,500 families with siblings that had one OCD child and one non-OCD child, so researchers could compare children with similar genetics and family dynamics to help explain the development of OCD later in life.
- The more stress during pregnancy and delivery, the higher the rate of OCD.
- For example, when mothers smoked 10 cigarettes or more during pregnancy, the child had a 27% higher risk of OCD later in life.
- Low APGAR scores increased the risk of OCD by 50%.
- Breech babies had a 35% higher risk of OCD.
- Cesarean deliveries had a 17% higher risk of subsequent OCD.
- The more stress inducing risk factors a patient had during pregnancy and birth, the higher their risk of OCD.
The bottom line:
Birth stress is felt and absorbed by the infant,
and increases their risk of OCD diagnosis later in life.
Because of the results of this study, I now see OCD as a form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
It’s a coping mechanism, a way to attempt to deal with birth trauma.
The infant endures stress during delivery, and the greater the stress, the more likely it is that the child experiences the stress as a traumatic event.
OCD is an attempt to regain control of a situation in which the infant was very out of control.
As an adult, attempting to control the environment around you by performing repetitive behaviors and managing intrusive, stressful thoughts is simply a way to try to regain control after an intense experience where, as an infant you were traumatized by being out of control in a very scary situation.
Holding on to birth stress and trying to relieve it years later through OCD thought patterns and behaviors is yet another way that proves to me that our body holds on to stress on a cellular level, and it needs to be released.
I talk about the fact that the body holds on to stress on a cellular level in this video I made about our body’s need to release traumatic experiences, which you may find helpful.
And hop over to this blog post where I talk about treating anxiety to reduce tension in your body today.
Providing high quality prenatal care and positive birth experiences will support not only the well-being of the mother but of the baby being delivered, who is experiencing everything that happens to them during birth and is holding on to subsequent tension and trauma.
Did you know that stressful birth experiences can even cause adrenal fatigue in babies?
A study on infants who had high cortisol levels after birth showed that by providing increased comfort and care, responding to the infants needs and helping parents develop improved parenting skills, the babies cortisol levels came back down to normal.
So all of these reactions the body has to stress… from PTSD to adrenal fatigue… are all reversible. That means you can over come your experiences and feel better than you’ve ever felt before, maybe better than you’ve felt since birth!
You can reverse adrenal fatigue, you can release trauma, you can let go of PTSD (and other coping mechanisms like OCD) and heal.
One of the most important ways to do that is to reduce inflammation to support the function of the entire body as well as the brain (inflammation in the brain over time leads to all sorts of disturbances such as dementia and depression) to recover from birth trauma and heal adrenal fatigue.
Grounding is the way to do that.
Join me in my upcoming Earth Rx online class where I will show you exactly why grounding your body is THE KEY in healing trauma, recovering from stress, and supporting the health of your body from head to toe, inside and out, for your entire lifetime.
And let’s get healing.