Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New method: research team analyzes stress biology in babies

28.08.2012
Testing stress without incurring it
New method: research team analyzes stress biology in babies
Pregnancy duration predicts stress response in the first months of life

After waking up, the concentration of the stress hormone cortisol in saliva rises considerably; this is true not only for grown-ups but for babies as well. A research team from the Ruhr-Universität Bochum and from Basel has reported this finding in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology.

“This gives us a new, non-invasive and uncomplicated possibility to already research the activity of the stress system during infancy,” Prof. Dr. Gunther Meinlschmidt, of the Clinic of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy at the LWL University Hospital of the RUB, said. The information not only open doors to the pursuit of as-yet unresolved research inquiries, but could also be used in the future to diagnose illnesses in the hormone-producing organs, such as the adrenal gland, of infants.

Testing stress hormones: easy with grown-ups, hard with babies
Scientists usually test the stress hormones of grown-ups by placing test subjects in an experiment under stress-inducing conditions. Since a similar practice is, for ethical reasons, unthinkable to use with babies, it is rather more difficult to find out how well-developed their stress systems are. The German-Swiss research team circumvented this problem by observing a naturally occurring “stress situation” – waking up. The cortisol-concentration in grown-ups rises after they wake up, presumably to prepare the body for the requirements of the day. At what age this cortisol-reaction develops has long been unclear.
Cortisol levels rise in babies upon waking up

Data from 64 newborns and infants between the ages of three weeks and six months were used in the study. On two days the infants’ parents had their children suck on a small cotton swab at home, once right after waking up and once half an hour later. Through this saliva, the scientists determined the cortisol-concentration. The cortisol amount rose considerably after the infants awoke in 63 % of cases. Neither the hour that the child woke up nor breastfeeding after waking played any role in these findings.

The shorter the pregnancy, the less the cortisol-level rises

Instead the length of the pregnancy had an effect. The earlier the children were born, the less their cortisol-levels rose after they woke up. “The stress hormone system may be less mature in babies who were born after a shorter pregnancy, which could have negative consequences,” assistant professor Marion Tegethoff, of the Faculty for Psychology at the University of Basel, said. Since cortisol can inhibit the immune system, the lack of cortisol-level rises could lead to excess immunological responses, similarly to what occurs with allergies.
Approaching new research questions through saliva tests

Stress increases the risk for mental disorders and bodily illnesses. There is now a new method available to investigate the stress systems easily in babies. Prof. Meinlschmidt, head of the Research Department of Psychobiology, Psychosomatics, and Psychotherapy at the LWL University Hospital in Bochum explains future research questions: “In some rodents the hormonal stress response in the first weeks of life is, for a specific timeframe, close to shut down – perhaps to protect organs that are developing during this time. It is still unknown if there is a comparable phase in humans, since it has long been impossible, because of ethical reasons, to repeatedly assess the hormonal stress reaction.”
Bibliographic record

M. Tegethoff, N. Knierzinger, A.H. Meyer, G. Meinlschmidt (2012): Cortisol awakening response in infants during the first six postnatal months and its relation to birth outcome, Psychoneuroendocrinology, doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2012.08.002

Further information

Prof. Dr. Gunther Meinlschmidt; Research Department of Psychobiology, Psychosomatics, and Psychotherapy; Clinic of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, LWL University Hospital, Alexandrinenstrasse 1-3, 44791 Bochum, Germany, Phone: +49/234/5077-3173
gunther.meinlschmidt@rub.de

Research Department of Neuroscience at RUB
http://www.rd.ruhr-uni-bochum.de/neuro/index.html.en

Editor: Dr. Julia Weiler

Dr. Josef König | idw
Further information:
http://www.rd.ruhr-uni-bochum.de/neuro/index.html.en

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Kidney tumor: Genetic trigger discovered
18.06.2018 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht New type of photosynthesis discovered
18.06.2018 | Imperial College London

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

Im Focus: Sharp images with flexible fibers

An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.

Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...

Im Focus: Photoexcited graphene puzzle solved

A boost for graphene-based light detectors

Light detection and control lies at the heart of many modern device applications, such as smartphone cameras. Using graphene as a light-sensitive material for...

Im Focus: Water is not the same as water

Water molecules exist in two different forms with almost identical physical properties. For the first time, researchers have succeeded in separating the two forms to show that they can exhibit different chemical reactivities. These results were reported by researchers from the University of Basel and their colleagues in Hamburg in the scientific journal Nature Communications.

From a chemical perspective, water is a molecule in which a single oxygen atom is linked to two hydrogen atoms. It is less well known that water exists in two...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Munich conference on asteroid detection, tracking and defense

13.06.2018 | Event News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

ISEKI_Food 2018: Conference with Holistic View of Food Production

05.06.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Novel method for investigating pore geometry in rocks

18.06.2018 | Earth Sciences

Diamond watch components

18.06.2018 | Process Engineering

New type of photosynthesis discovered

18.06.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>