Apr 06, 2016 1:00 AM

Author: Libby Mitchell


This baby has great hair. Does that mean her mother had great heartburn during pregnancy?

The viral photo posted to Instagram by Isabelle Kaplan is reviving interest in the old wives’ tale that women who have severe heartburn during pregnancy are more likely to have babies with lots of hair. There is one study that points to there being some truth to this correlation, but most of the evidence is anecdotal.

“The study published in Birth in 2006, which concluded, contrary to expectations, that there is an association between the severity of heartburn during pregnancy and the amount of hair a newborn had,” says Leissa Roberts, DNP, CNM, associate dean and a certified nurse midwife in the University of Utah College of Nursing. “This was a small study with only 64 participants.  This simple link does not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.”

It is more likely that while baby hair doesn’t cause heartburn, the hormones that cause it to grow do. “Other studies have shown the hormones of pregnancy relax the esophageal sphincter, contributing to heartburn,” says Roberts. “It could be these same hormones that contribute to fetal hair growth.”

Regardless of the validity of the heartburn-to-hair connection, hearing the old wives’ tales surrounding pregnancy is always fun. “They are usually associated with gender, and when you are correct 50 percent of the time, it is easy to see why they are perpetuated,” says Roberts. “Nevertheless, one of the wonderful aspects of pregnancy is to dream about who the new little person you are welcoming into your life is, and how much hair will they have!”

pregnancy midwives

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