Monday, April 06, 2009

Burn Baby Burn: Heartburn is associated with baby hair.

When I came into this world, I did so with a full head of thick hair. I've always had loads of hair. Thick, thick hair.

I fully expect to have a baby with a full head of hair too.

But what I didn't realize until recently is that there is actually research evidence that confirms the 'old wives tale' that says if mother has heartburn during pregnancy, the baby will be hairy.

I started looking into it over the weekend when I got heartburn so bad that I ended up with acid actually in my mouth. It woke me up at night too.

I have to say I was a bit surprised to find there is actually some pretty solid research on the subject. The journal Birth published a study in 2006 that found a nice linear relationship between severity of heartburn and the volume of infant hair. The correlation was significant at p<0.001 which is actually pretty impressive.

Most (23 out of 28) women who reported moderate or severe heartburn had babies judged to have a lot of hair. In contrast, most (10 out of 12) women who reported no heartburn gave birth to babies judged to have little to no hair.

The researchers analyzed whether any maternal or infant characteristics were associated with newborn hair. These included infant sex, weight and height as well as maternal prepregnancy weight, age, education level, occupation status, number of previous births, height, general pregnancy anxiety, ethnicity and medications taken for heartburn. No correlations were found with newborn hair, thus reducing the possibility that a third factor unrelated to infant hairyness was at play.

I know it's just one study, but given my heartburn and the fact that I myself was born with a full head of luscious, thick hair I'm placing my bets on having a babe with lots of hair at birth.

... not that that makes me feel any better about the horrendous heartburn I've been having! But it is nice to know that heartburn is associated with something good. The heartburn and acid reflux has caused me to change my diet. Humpf on that. I love salsa and spicy food, and citrus and garlic and onions and just everything that is fun to eat, like pizza. Unfortunately those are all no-go foods. Hopefully at my appointment this week I'll get some ideas on what I can eat that is fun but won't make the heartburn really bad. My guess is all I'll get is advice I already know: no eating before bed, stay upright after eating, no carbonated beverages or caffeine, no spicy or fried food, elevate my upper body while sleeping (not a very fun position, by the way). They'll probably say I should take Tums.

At least I'll get to educate my doc on the study, which is always fun. My last doc loved me, I think, in part because every time I saw her I had something educational up my sleeve to whip out and share.

No one really knows why there's a connection between heartburn and fetal hair, but the researchers speculate that high levels of estrogens and progesterone trigger both fetal hair growth and relaxation of the stomach sphincter. A mouse model supports their hunch.

.. And, yes, that is me in the pic.


Rose Connors said...

Wow, you really were hairy! I suggest mint tea, although I'm sure you've thought of that one already. I sympathize at least in part because age seems to make my stomach more sensitive to the spicy foods I love. Best of luck!

Joy De Vivre Design said...

What a cute baby picture! I believe that too. My friend had bad heartburn and her baby has a head of hair!

kim* said...

that is pretty funny! my child will have a full set then if i ever have one lol

Sycamore Moon Studios said...

I hope you enjoy every minute of getting to know that new little life inside you...hairy or not!

T.Allen-Mercado said...

Great post! I had heartburn with both pregnancies, but only for the first 3 months. Both my children were exceptionally hairy...all the nurses were talking about my daughter who could have worn barrettes day one!

SquirrelGurl said...

Sorry to hear about the heartburn!

My cousin's wife had really bad heartburn throughout her pregnancy as well, but the interesting thing was she got the worst of it when she ate "bland" foods. For her, the spicier the food the less heartburn!

Strange. Guess that everyone is different!