Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

When babies awake: New study shows surprise regarding important hormone level

02.12.2011
Cortisol may be the Swiss Army knife of hormones in the human body-just when scientists think they understand what it does, another function pops up. While many of these functions are understood for adults, much less is known about how cortisol operates in babies and toddlers, especially when it comes to an important phenomenon called the cortisol awakening response, or CAR.

For the first time, psychology researchers from the University of Georgia Franklin College of Arts and Sciences have shown that this response for infants is opposite of what it is for adults. The new information could have implications for how infants handle stress and why proper care from their mothers could affect how growing children react to cortisol in later life.

"Surprisingly, the CAR hasn't been widely studied in infants or young children," said psychology doctoral student Melissa Bright, who led the study. "There is consensus that the adult pattern of cortisol response isn't present at birth, but much less is known about when in the first year of life it is established."

Other authors of the research, just published online in the journal Developmental Psychobiology, are Janet Frick, a faculty member in UGA's department of psychology and director of the UGA Infant Research Lab, and Douglas Granger of Johns Hopkins School of Nursing.

... more about:
»Cortisol »Science TV »Swiss Army knife

Cortisol is produced in the adrenal gland and has dozens of jobs in the body. It is released in response to stress and can increase blood sugar, suppress the immune system and aid in metabolism. And yet it works in vastly more arenas than those. One such area is the CAR, and when adults awake, an organ "team" called the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis works together to release cortisol-somewhat as a sentinel-alerting the body to stress or threats.

The new study discovered that in infants, cortisol levels actually didn't increase but stayed stable from the time they awoke in the morning and for half an hour afterward. Cortisol levels didn't change following naps, either. Interestingly, the research team also found a mother-infant cortisol association called "psychological attunement," confirming recent research that cortisol levels between mothers and infants are correlated.

"Taken together, these findings raise an interesting possibility," said Frick. "In infancy, cortisol responses may be less dependent on hard-wired biological rhythms and more influenced by the HPA axis activity of the baby's immediate caregivers."

The team conducted the research using 32 baby-mother pairs. Nineteen of the babies were female and 13 were males, and they ranged in age from 7.8 to 17.4 months. After agreeing to participate, mothers were instructed to collect saliva samples using cotton swabs from inside the mouths of their infants and then themselves four times on a single day: when the infants awoke in the morning, 30-45 minutes after the baby awoke, when the baby awoke from its first nap of the day and 30-45 minutes after that. Other requirements applied, but they weren't difficult for the mothers to follow, said Bright.

No one knows at precisely what age the CAR begins in humans, though it had previously been predicted to be present sometime in the first year. The current data indicates that it emerges at a much older age, however. Why babies don't emit rising amounts of cortisol in response to awakening isn't clear, either.

"It is possible that the CAR is absent or more difficult to detect in early childhood because of the developmental stage of the hippocampus and related structures," said Bright.

Understanding how the CAR develops in infants could offer clues as to how adults respond to such things as stress in later life. Other scientists have found, for instance, that women who as infants or children were subjected to maltreatment and inconsistency of care showed higher than normal levels of cortisol on awakening as adults.

The issue of psychological attunement also has possibly important implications for a close, caring relationship between mother and child. Other researchers have studied so-called "behavioral synchrony," a parent's ability to identify and appropriately respond to her or his child's emotions and behaviors. The psychological attunement suggested in the present study may be part of the same paradigm, said Frick.

Bright said that while there are some experimental-design limitations in the study, this first study of the cortisol awakening response in infants could lead to other research that clarifies why the response in babies is so different from that in adults.

The research was supported by a Graduate Research Fellowship that Bright received from the National Science Foundation.

Melissa Bright | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uga.edu

Further reports about: Cortisol Science TV Swiss Army knife

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Multi-year study finds 'hotspots' of ammonia over world's major agricultural areas
17.03.2017 | University of Maryland

nachricht Diabetes Drug May Improve Bone Fat-induced Defects of Fracture Healing
17.03.2017 | Deutsches Institut für Ernährungsforschung Potsdam-Rehbrücke

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

When Air is in Short Supply - Shedding light on plant stress reactions when oxygen runs short

23.03.2017 | Life Sciences

Researchers use light to remotely control curvature of plastics

23.03.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Sea ice extent sinks to record lows at both poles

23.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>