Liat Lerner-Geva of Tel Aviv University's Sackler Faculty of Medicine and the Women and Children's Health Research Unit at The Gertner Institute for Epidemiology and Health Policy Research Ltd. and colleagues tracked the pregnancies of women from the Israeli town of Sderot.
Sderot has been a constant target of rocket fire from the Gaza Strip since 2001. Rocket attacks are preceded by an alarm warning residents to take shelter. The alarms themselves are loud, sudden, and stress-inducing, the study said. Once they sound, Sderot residents have only seconds before a rocket hits, Lerner-Geva said.
Between 2001 and 2008 more than 1,000 alarms were sounded in the vicinity of Sderot.
Not every neighborhood in Sderot was subject to the same number of attacks, Lerner-Geva said. The researchers hypothesized women in higher stress areas would have a higher probability of miscarriage, but the results indicated women in both high-intensity and low-intensity areas were at the same risk.
One explanation is the constant fear of attack is as stressful as the attacks themselves, Lerner-Geva suggested.
The findings, published in the Psychosomatic Medicine Journal of Biobehavioural Medicine, found those living under rocket fire were at higher risk for adverse birth outcomes, including miscarriage and premature birth.