Rocket attacks in Sderot, Israel significantly increase the likelihood  of miscarriages, according to a new study by Ben-Gurion University of  the Negev (BGU) researchers.

The study, published in the January issue of Psychosomatic Medicine Journal of Bio-behavioral Medicine, compared 1,341 pregnancies of women (exposed group) who resided in  Sderot, an area exposed to frequent rocket fire, with 2,143 pregnancies  of women who lived in Kiryat Gat (unexposed group), which is out of  range of missiles. Among women residing in the exposed town, the number of weekly alarms  during the 6 months preconception was 2.2  with a range of 0 to 15.3.  During pregnancy, the mean weekly alarm rate was 3.5 with a range of 0  to 31.

The study found that exposure to rocket attacks increased miscarriages  (also known as  Spontaneous Abortion) (SA) risk by 59 percent, as  compared to women not experiencing this stress during or before  pregnancy (in Sderot 6 percent compared with 4.7 percent in Kiryat Gat).

The Israeli southern town of Sderot has been a constant target of rocket  firing from the Gaza Strip since 2001. The rocket attacks are preceded  by a warning alarm that informs residents to seek shelter. These alarms  are loud, sudden as well as stress inducing because they are sounded  only few seconds before the rocket hits the town. Between April 2001 and December 2008, more than 1000 alarms have been sounded in or near  Sderot — 500 during 2008 alone. Rockets have fallen and exploded within the town, killing residents and causing property damage.

The researchers also found that among the residents of Sderot those with  both the lowest and highest level of exposure to rocket alarms during  pregnancy had higher risk for SA than those with intermediate exposure.  Researchers suggested that this finding may be explained by  dysregulation of cortisol, a known stress hormone, explain Tamar  Wainstock, Ph.D candidate and Professor Ilana Shoham-Vardi at BGU’s  Department of Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences.  “However, as  the number of alarms intensified, the risk was elevated again possibly  with increased cortisol level, or alternatively, with reduced cortisol  level, as found in Post Traumatic Stress Disorders, which itself may  increase the risk for adverse pregnancy outcomes.”

Other researchers involved in the study were Prof. Eyal Anteby, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Barzilai Medical Center, Prof. Liat  Lerner-Geva and Saralee Glasser, Women and Children’s Health Research  Unit, Gertner Institute for Epidemiology and Health Policy Research.

This study was supported in part, by Grant No. 3-00000-6643/2011 (principal investigator

Lerner- Geva L.) from the Chief Scientist Office of the Ministry of Health, Israel.

American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (AABGU) plays a vital role in sustaining David Ben-Gurion’s vision, creating a  world-class institution of education and research in the Israeli desert, nurturing the Negev community and sharing the University’s expertise  locally and around the globe. With some 20,000 students on campuses in  Beer-Sheva, Sede Boqer and Eilat in Israel’s southern desert, BGU is a  university with a conscience, where the highest academic standards are  integrated with community involvement, committed to sustainable  development of the Negev.  AABGU is headquartered in Manhattan and has  nine regional offices throughout the U.S. For more information, please  visit



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here