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Pregnancy Indigestion & the Baby's Hair

By Evelyn Broderick ; Updated June 13, 2017

For centuries, pregnant women that suffer from heartburn have been told their child with be born with a lot of hair. In recent years, researchers have investigated the truth of this old wives' tale. A study at Johns Hopkins University found that there may be some merit to the piece of wisdom, though reasons for the link are still being explored. Meanwhile, there are things you can do to relieve the heartburn -- without affecting your child's hair.

The Evidence

In 2006, a group of researchers at Johns Hopkins set out to debunk popular myths about indigestion in pregnancy being linked to the fetal hair. They asked 64 pregnant women to rank the severity of heartburn they experienced during pregnancy. Then, independent assessments were made after birth about newborn hair volume. While most women reported some heartburn, there was a direct correlation between severity of heartburn and newborn hair volume. The surprised researchers concluded that a relationship between heartburn during pregnancy and newborn hair volume does exist.

The Reasoning

While researchers were surprised by their findings, they concluded that high levels of certain hormones such as estrogen can relax the esophageal sphincter, causing heartburn. These same hormones may influence fetal hair growth and can be elevated in pregnancy.

The Remedy

While you cannot control fetal hair growth, there are certain actions you can take to help alleviate heartburn while you are pregnant. Consider eating smaller meals, drinking less while eating, avoiding spicy foods, avoiding bending or lying down right after eating and raising your head when you lie down. All of these suggestions are aimed at reducing other behaviors that can exacerbate heartburn and should not affect your baby's future hair growth.

Accuracy

Of the 64 women studied, 78 percent reported they experienced some heartburn. Only 28 reported moderate to severe heartburn. Of the 12 women who reported no heartburn, 83 percent gave birth to babies with very little or no hair. Severity of heartburn is not a foolproof sign that a newborn will have a lot of hair, but it is a good indicator.

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