When Johns Hopkins researchers exposed pregnant rats to stress, they found some interesting results: Those rats’ babies were more prone to anorexia-like behavior. The correlation was particularly true when the pregnant rats exhibited passive responses to stress.
Now, rats aren’t humans. Nonetheless, the researchers believe that the link between prenatal exposure to stress and later issues withsevere weight loss, hyperactivity, and voluntary refusal to eat might be useful in studying the human brain: “The results of this study suggest that we may be able to identify a subgroup of patients, those with a passive (rather than proactive) stress-coping style and a history of stress during early development, who might be highly vulnerable to anorexia when they start dieting,” said lead author Gretha Boersma of the Johns Hopkins Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.
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