Girls Combat Stress Better in the Womb, Research Finds

While boys may look tough, it is the girls who manage stress better, even inside the womb says a recent study.

Researchers at the University of Adelaide’s Robinson Institute found that there was a marked difference in the behavior of a female or a male fetus when inside the womb of the mom while in midst of stressful situations like the mother smoking, drinking alcohol, having an infection or suffering from asthma.

While the boys ignore the signs of stress and grow as big as they can, girls make themselves smaller, raising chances of a successful delivery even if conditions are not good inside the womb.

Says researcher Vicki Clifton,

“With boys, if something else goes wrong, they are more at risk of delivering pre-term or, in the worst case scenario, being stillborn. So in the uterus girls do cope better with stresses than boys. Girls are lean and mean and they’re survivors.”

The researchers also pointed out that the differences were because of the movement of the stress hormones across the placenta. While girls responded to the hormone by making big adjustments, boys ignore them.

The research also found that when it was a case of just a single stress like asthma or mother having a single infection, boys coped better than girls.

It is hoped that the study will help moms-to-be understand the importance of avoiding smoking and drinking while pregnant, take care of staying healthy, eating healthy and take proper medication in case they suffer from asthma.

A mother associated with the study Mrs. Hillier said,

“”I think it’s important to have awareness. There are some things that are beyond our control but the things that we can manage…it’s really important that you think about the impact on the significant being that’s growing inside of you.”

– Atula, Staff Writer

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About the author


Atula is a writer, traveler, and a nature-lover. She is also mom to a boy who seems to have inherited all her creative genes. When Atula is not busy making up stories with her son, she writes for numerous magazines, websites, and blogs. She is also working on her site on endangered species called

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