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 A sudden drop in outdoor temperature increases the risk of respiratory infections
11.01.2017 | University of Gothenburg

nachricht Urbanization to convert 300,000 km2 of prime croplands
27.12.2016 | Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) gGmbH

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: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

Im Focus: Bacterial Pac Man molecule snaps at sugar

Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.

The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...

Im Focus: Newly proposed reference datasets improve weather satellite data quality

UMD, NOAA collaboration demonstrates suitability of in-orbit datasets for weather satellite calibration

"Traffic and weather, together on the hour!" blasts your local radio station, while your smartphone knows the weather halfway across the world. A network of...

Im Focus: Repairing defects in fiber-reinforced plastics more efficiently

Fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) are frequently used in the aeronautic and automobile industry. However, the repair of workpieces made of these composite materials is often less profitable than exchanging the part. In order to increase the lifetime of FRP parts and to make them more eco-efficient, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and the Apodius GmbH want to combine a new measuring device for fiber layer orientation with an innovative laser-based repair process.

Defects in FRP pieces may be production or operation-related. Whether or not repair is cost-effective depends on the geometry of the defective area, the tools...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Multiregional brain on a chip

16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

New technology enables 5-D imaging in live animals, humans

16.01.2017 | Information Technology

Researchers develop environmentally friendly soy air filter

16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>