University of Houston researches Harvey’s effect on pregnancies

HOUSTON — Living in Houston during Harvey was stressful!

“I’ve got family in Texas City, I’ve got family in Clear Lake. I have to worry about whether they’re safe too,” Chandra Frederick said.

But not everyone went through that stress, eight and a half months pregnant like Frederick.

“Almost 20 inches that first night, I only got like an hour and a half of sleep I was so stressed out,” she recalls.

Fredrick lives in Spring with her husband and children, and she was just weeks away from giving birth when Harvey’s first bands made landfall.

Just as it stopped raining, and water in her neighborhood was blocking all but one exit out, she started feeling contractions.

“It took about 45 minutes to an hour to get there by the ambulance,” Frederick says.

It turned out to be false labor, most likely brought on by added stress.

“They had said that there had been a lot of other pregnant people that during Hurricane Harvey period that had come in from the stress from everything,” explained Frederick.

That’s something Dr. Johanna Bick, a researcher at University of Houston, isn't surprised to hear.

“We’re launching a study to examine the effects of stress in pregnant moms due to Hurricane Harvey...animal research has told us that high levels of stress can have an effect on offspring…we know that in Houston, about 72,000 babies will be born in the next year so we have the unique opportunity study this question in a broad sample of moms, with different backgrounds and hope to use this data help moms and babies in the future,” says Dr. Bick

Luckily, Chandra says Justin shows no sign of any ill effects from the added stress.

Eighty women already signed up, but Bick hopes to see 1,000 women in the program.

“All of the participation is online so they don’t even have to leave their home, they just need a device with internet,” she says.

Moms interested in participating can find instructions at www.harveymomstudy.com