This was intriguing — a study of rats who were exposed to trauma even prior to conception had offspring that had noticeably different behavior, compared to rats that were not traumatized. Although it would be unethical to deliberately traumatize pregnant or “trying to conceive” women, this prospective rodent study could forge the pathway to do a retrospective study on women who underwent trauma before becoming pregnant, or sometime during their pregnancies, to see how it affected their babies, or if it affected them at all. It makes sense, though, that if a woman is traumatized in some way, that it will affect her attitude and personality (few people can escape a horrific car wreck, a house fire, losing a parent to cancer, or something like that completely unscathed), and this may make a subtle difference in the way she interacts with her baby, which may make a difference in how the baby reacts in social situations. For instance, it may make a normal woman into a “nervous Nellie” which may lead her to be overly protective and even stifling of her baby, so s/he gets limited interaction with people other than his mother or perhaps close family. While this in and of itself is not necessarily bad, if the mom overreacts to strangers approaching her, for example, it may teach her baby to be inordinately scared of strangers as well.
It’s not something I would worry too much about — especially since most types of trauma are (almost by definition) unforeseen and unavoidable. However, if you know a woman who had a traumatic experience even prior to getting pregnant, you now have a bit more reason to hug her a little more closely, lend a helping hand, or provide a shoulder to lean on or to cry on.