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    Stressing about finances during pregnancy linked to low birth weight

    Money-related woes can affect the health of an unborn baby, study suggests

    Raising a kid isn’t cheap. From diapers to daycare, the costs associated with raising a child can amount to a hefty sum -- somewhere in the neighborhood of $13,000 a year per child, according to a recent report.

    But worrying about finances while pregnant could have a negative effect on the health of an unborn baby, a new study suggests.

    Researchers at the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center say they've found a link between anxiety over financial stress and babies being born at lower birth weights.

    Lower birth weights

    To conduct the study, the investigators asked pregnant women questions about how difficult it would be to live on their annual household income and handle baby-related expenses in the coming months.

    “We found that the more stress a woman reported, the greater the likelihood that she would have a baby of low birth weight,” said lead author Amanda Mitchell.

    Low birth weight is defined as being below 5 pounds and 8 ounces. Beyond having to spend their first weeks in intensive care, smaller infants may also be more likely to suffer from health problems (including diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity) later in life.

    Across all incomes

    Financial stress didn’t exclusively affect women in lower income brackets, the study found. Rather, it was a woman’s “perception of her ability to meet her expenses” which triggered money-related stress.

    "There is an opportunity here to look for interventions during pregnancy that could help mitigate the effects of financial strain on birth outcomes," Mitchell said in a statement.

    Finding ways to cope with stress during pregnancy is critical, she added.

    Managing stress

    "It's important for all women who experience pregnancy-related stress to seek out help coping with that stress," Mitchell said. "And ob-gyns and other medical providers should also talk about stress during their visits with expecting moms."

    The following techniques may help prevent stress from potentially affecting the development of a baby, experts say:

    • Meditate. Moms-to-be can clear their mind of stress by meditating and doing breathing exercises, says Mitchell.
    • Rest. Exhaustion can amplify negative emotions, including stress. Pregnant women should be sure to allow themselves plenty of sleep.
    • Create a budget plan. Expectant couples who are dealing with money-related stress can turn their anxiety into an action plan by setting manageable financial goals.
    • Eat healthy. A well-balanced diet can help reduce stress, as well as help to ensure a baby is getting key nutrients.
    Raising a kid isn’t cheap. From diapers to daycare, the costs associated with raising a child can amount to a hefty sum -- somewhere in the neighborhood of...
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      What to consider before moving to an age-restrictive community

      55-plus housing developments are springing up everywhere

      They're springing up everywhere. Spacious condos in developments with every conceivable amenity and creature comfort. Surrounded by walls and accessible only through gates, just about anyone can visit, but to live there you must be 55 or older.

      At a time when home-building is in steep decline, these developments are keeping builders busy and profitable. Earlier this year, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) issued a very bullish forecast for age-restrictive communities.

      It predicted strength in the segment would continue over the next decade as Baby Boomers seek to downsize or relocate.

      Selling a lifestyle, not homes

      Michigan builder Pinnacle Homes recently launched seven new luxury communities for homeowners in the 55-plus sector. Pinnacle Homes Managing Partner Howard Fingeroot said the company isn't selling homes as much as it is a lifestyle.

      "Traditionally, adults ages 50 and older have either moved to smaller homes with fewer amenities or stayed in the same homes where they raised their kids, dealing with maintenance and remodeling issues as necessary,” Fingeroot said.

      “As more Baby Boomers approach retirement, we're seeing a demand for homes that require little to no maintenance, include modern amenities that support the luxurious look and feel of their lifestyle, and are in or near the areas where they raised their families and made friends."

      Things to consider

      If you're in that age group and thinking about moving to an age-restrictive community, here are some things to consider first: will you like the location? If you currently live near an urban core, will you like the move to the suburbs or countryside, where many of these developments are being built?

      Will you enjoy being surrounded by other people your age and from the same economic background? For many, this is no doubt a selling point, but it might not be for everyone.

      Can you live with the rules? These types of developments tend of have stronger regulations than the typical home owners' association, not least of which are rules determining who can live there. If a son or daughter needs to move back home for a time, they can't if mom and dad are living in an age-restrictive community.

      Dave Hughes, founder of Retire Fabulously, says moving to an age-restrictive community introduces a number of lifestyle factors that aren't present in other situations. He suggests doing your due diligence and gathering as much information as you can before making such a life-changing move.

      They're springing up everywhere. Spacious condos in developments with every conceivable amenity and creature comfort. Surrounded by walls and accessible on...
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