Rocket attacks in Sderot, Israel significantly increase the likelihoodÂ of miscarriages, according to a new study by Ben-Gurion University ofÂ 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 inÂ Sderot, an area exposed to frequent rocket fire, with 2,143 pregnanciesÂ of women who lived in Kiryat Gat (unexposed group), which is out ofÂ range of missiles. Among women residing in the exposed town, the number of weekly alarmsÂ during the 6 months preconception was 2.2Â with a range of 0 to 15.3.Â During pregnancy, the mean weekly alarm rate was 3.5 with a range of 0Â to 31.
The study found that exposure to rocket attacks increased miscarriagesÂ (also known asÂ Spontaneous Abortion) (SA) risk by 59 percent, asÂ compared to women not experiencing this stress during or beforeÂ 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 rocketÂ firing from the Gaza Strip since 2001. The rocket attacks are precededÂ by a warning alarm that informs residents to seek shelter. These alarmsÂ are loud, sudden as well as stress inducing because they are soundedÂ only few seconds before the rocket hits the town. Between April 2001 and December 2008, more than 1000 alarms have been sounded in or nearÂ 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 withÂ both the lowest and highest level of exposure to rocket alarms duringÂ pregnancy had higher risk for SA than those with intermediate exposure.Â Researchers suggested that this finding may be explained byÂ dysregulation of cortisol, a known stress hormone, explain TamarÂ Wainstock, Ph.D candidate and Professor Ilana Shoham-Vardi at BGU’sÂ Department of Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences.Â “However, asÂ the number of alarms intensified, the risk was elevated again possiblyÂ with increased cortisol level, or alternatively, with reduced cortisolÂ level, as found in Post Traumatic Stress Disorders, which itself mayÂ 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. LiatÂ Lerner-Geva and Saralee Glasser, Women and Children’s Health ResearchÂ 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 aÂ world-class institution of education and research in the Israeli desert, nurturing the Negev community and sharing the University’s expertiseÂ locally and around the globe. With some 20,000 students on campuses inÂ Beer-Sheva, Sede Boqer and Eilat in Israel’s southern desert, BGU is aÂ university with a conscience, where the highest academic standards areÂ integrated with community involvement, committed to sustainableÂ development of the Negev.Â AABGU is headquartered in Manhattan and hasÂ nine regional offices throughout the U.S. For more information, pleaseÂ visit