Eleanor Weiker | 2024 I.S. Symposium

Eleanor Weiker head shot

Name: Eleanor Weiker
Title: Impacts of Birth on Infants and Mothers
Major: Self-Designed Public Health
Minor: Environmental Studies
Advisors: Sharon Lynn; Stephanie Strand (second reader)

The way people give birth has lasting impacts on the mother and infant, in terms of both emotional and physical health. For my IS, I took a two-pronged approach, completing a literature review of global birthing data and administering a survey to understand local trends. In my literature review, I found that mode of delivery and breastfeeding affect microbiome colonization, as evidenced by higher disease rates in children born via C-section. Additionally, mode of delivery has an impact on childhood psychopathology by impacting hormones, including cortisol. I also found that synthetic oxytocin used in birth can influence development of autism spectrum disorder. I completed the literature review by investigating external factors that can influence birth outcomes. Race and socioeconomic status can significantly influence the way people give birth, birth experiences, and infant outcomes. These factors can also influence exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals, which can have major impacts on development and risk for disease. Furthermore, I created and administered a survey to examine regional influences on birthing trends.The sample population was not representative of state or nationwide trends regarding education level and race. I found lower C-section rates in my population than the state average. Assisted vaginal deliveries (used vacuum or forceps) were found to be significantly more stressful than vaginal deliveries and a trend was observed between the mode of delivery being different than the mother expected and the birth being stressful and feeling out of control.

Posted in Symposium 2024 on April 24, 2024.