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Maternal Stressful Life Events Prior to Conception and the Impact on Infant Birth Weight in the United States

Maternal Stressful Life Events Prior to Conception and the Impact on Infant Birth Weight in the United States. American Journal of Public Health (Witt et al., 2014).

People usually underrate the environmental impact on the unborn. Witt et al.’s (2014) research paint a good picture of how stressful events before conception might determine an infant’s birth weight. It is applicable beyond the US and can be crucial in advancing prenatal health care. The researchers used an experimental design to estimate the effect of exposure to stressful events before conception on infant birth weight. They discovered a positive relationship between low birth weight infant and exposure to stressful events before conceiving. I consider this research significantly helpful to health care because it could help people eliminate major stressors, especially for reproductive-aged women.

The researchers used a much superior experimental design to reduce bias to minimal levels. For instance, factoring in respondents’ income statuses, racial backgrounds, number of infants per household, and sampling technique could be vital in realizing valid results and conclusions. The research findings resonate well with modern society because stressful events are frequent and how people deal with such events is different case-by-case.

A critical issue with this research is that surveys produce low validity when used in experiments. Parry and Crossley (1950) explain that surveys are affected by numerous factors, such as those influenced by respondents and other variables. Consequently, the findings might be less generalizable despite the aspect of randomization. Another critical issue is the presence of variables that could exacerbate the effects of stressful events. In line with this, we might ask a few questions regarding this research. For instance, is it possible that some respondents had better coping mechanisms than others? Would it be correct to assume every respondent had the same coping ability?

Notably, the researchers argue that the findings indicate the need to focus on the predisposed reproductive-aged women. But, it would be controversial to use this research as the foundation of such initiatives when the data did not include the vulnerable groups, such as women of color and the poor. Nevertheless, a positive aspect is that it offers insight into how we can protect women around us against major stressful events and help improve infants’ lives. Principally, the research has expanded my understanding of lifespan development.


Parry, H. J., & Crossley, H. M. (1950). Validity of responses to survey questions. Public Opinion Quarterly14(1), 61. https://doi.org/10.1086/266150

Witt, W. P., Cheng, E. R., Wisk, L. E., Litzelman, K., Chatterjee, D., Mandell, K., & Wakeel, F. (2014). Maternal stressful life events prior to conception and the impact on infant birth weight in the United States. American Journal of Public Health104(S1), S81-S89. https://doi.org/10.2105/ajph.2013.301544

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