Which is why I have no problem admitting to you that I had a difficult time becoming accustomed to a Quebec winter (one that I’ve been told by many was really not that bad). But the extent of which we are truly formed by our surroundings, particularly when we’re still in the womb, has been something of great interest to Dr. Suzanne King, a Montreal-based researcher, for decades.
When the ice storms of 1998 took place, Dr. King had already been curious about prenatal maternal stress. After the storms, she turned her curiosity into a study on how that stress impacts a child’s health.
The study, titled (arguably the coolest name ever) Project Ice Storm, was (and is) conducted by scientists from the Douglas Mental Health University Institute and McGill University, and started by addressing the maternal personality factors of 178 women who had been exposed to the storms, who either were pregnant at the time, or became pregnant soon after. Researchers also factored in the amount of days without power each woman went through, post-traumatic stress symptoms, and physiological reactions.
Follow-ups with the children born from these women happened every year or every other year, though it’s clear that the follow-up is ongoing, as the goal of the study as it currently stands is “to understand the long-term effects of the prenatal exposure to stress… by studying developmental trajectories through early adulthood,” according to the Project Ice Storm page on McGill’s website.