Newborn baby with dark brown hair laying on mom's lap

Pregnancy is a magical, perplexing, and sometimes downright mystifying time. For generations, old wives' tales were used in an attempt to find connections between symptoms and what they could mean. One such tale: Women who experience pregnancy heartburn will have babies born with full heads of hair.

Is this just a charming myth to add a dash of folklore to the trials of pregnancy? Or could there indeed be a hair-raising truth behind the heartburn-hair connection? Science actually has an answer...

According to a 2006 study published in the research journal Birth, there does appear to be an association between heartburn and babies' hair. However, it's not as simple as the hair causing the heartburn.

The study involved 64 women who reported on their heartburn severity during pregnancy. After these women gave birth, the hair volume of their newborns was assessed by "independent coders" who were unaware of the mothers' heartburn reports. During pregnancy, 28 women experienced severe heartburn—and 23 of them gave birth to babies with pronounced hair. On the other end of the spectrum, of the 12 women who (luckily!) didn't have any heartburn, 10 of them had babies with "less than average or no hair."

Here's where the old wives' tale falls apart: According to the legend, the baby's hair is the cause of heartburn, but that's not the case. Rather, the researchers suggest the release of hormones during pregnancy lead to hair and, separately, lead to heartburn. As the researchers explain, "We propose a shared biologic mechanism involving a dual role of pregnancy hormones in both the relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter and the modulation of fetal hair growth."

There you have it! If you're coping with pregnancy heartburn, your baby's amount of hair is not to blame... But you are more likely to have a cutie with a full mane.

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