U-M Researchers Look At Transgenerational Stress

Stress is an underlying condition that plagues many in the health care safety net, and psychological trauma is a significant contributor to the malaise. The University of Michigan recently announced a study that demonstrates transference of psychological stress from mother to baby. Dr. Jacek Debiec, a U-M psychiatrist and author of the study, is quoted by the Detroit Free Press as terming this condition “transgenerational trauma.” Like other forms of psychological trauma, it can trigger nightmares, flashbacks, and physiological reactions among children, even though they never experienced the trauma.

Dr. Debiec says, “You take care of the mother, you take care of the baby… and the sooner you take care, the better.” This  suggests that maternal caregivers should assess the emotional health of pregnant women and offer counseling support. The problem is creating an accessible supply of mental health providers in the safety net.

For information on the study, check out this link: http://www.freep.com/article/20140728/FEATURES08/307280167/rats-inherit-fear-in-U-M-study

Alytia Levandosky, professor of Psychiatry at the University of Michigan, has also conducted studies on whether stress — specifically, domestic violence — in pregnancy affects the physical and emotional health of the child. http://psychology.msu.edu/Faculty/FacultyMember.aspx?netid=levendo1