If maternal stress is a problem, stop stressing pregnant women out!

Screenshot 2016-05-25 01.10.34The title is my response to this article in The Washington Post, Inequality might start before we’re even born. The screenshot to the left is from Twitter, and shows an alternate title. The article is written by a journalist whose work I normally am appreciate of, but when I saw that I started swearing. There’s just no way that that’s nothing but some spurious correlation. But this research is just too sexy not to write up. It has everything. Inequality. Scientific revolution. And some catchy hooks which relate to American culture (sports).

expecting-betterObviously stories like the above are why Emily Oster had to write Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom Is Wrong–and What You Really Need to Know. Mind you, the fact that Mendelian genetics works as a model should give you a clue as to the reality that epigenetic stress is not ubiquitous in explaining inter-generational variation. But it doesn’t hurt to have a University of Chicago economist step in to rebut the latest well-meaning moral panics.

Here is the reason I am posting this: if you actually believe that mild stress has major long-term impacts, why would the media post a piece that probably induces stress in pregnant women!

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