Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Stress in pregnancy may affect the unborn child

31.05.2007
Stress experienced by a woman during pregnancy may have an effect on her unborn child, most likely mediated by the transfer of stress hormones across the placenta. Research published in May’s edition of Clinical Endocrinology shows that from 17 weeks of age, the amount of stress hormone in the amniotic fluid surrounding the fetus is positively related to that in the mother’s blood. This is the first report of this relationship noted at such an early stage in pregnancy.

Stress hormones are pumped into our blood when we become anxious. These hormones are good in the short term because they help our bodies deal with the present stressful situation. But if we are stressed for a long time they can affect our health including making us tired, depressed and more prone to illness. Although we know stress during pregnancy affects the unborn child, little is understood about the mechanisms behind this or when in development the child is most susceptible to these effects.

Researchers led by Prof Vivette Glover at Imperial College London and Dr Pampa Sarkar at Wexham Park Hospital Berkshire examined the relationship between the stress hormones in the mother’s blood and stress hormones present in the amniotic fluid around the baby in the womb. They studied 267 women, taking a blood sample from the mother and a sample from the amniotic fluid surrounding the baby. They then measured the levels of a stress hormone called cortisol present in both samples. At gestational age of 17 weeks or greater, they found that the higher the cortisol levels in the mother’s blood, the greater was the level of cortisol in the amniotic fluid. Amniotic fluid is predominantly produced by the fetus, and reflects the exposure of the fetus to various substances including hormones.

Recent work on animals shows that high levels of stress in the mother during pregnancy can affect brain function and behaviour in her offspring. While evidence in the scientific literature suggests that maternal stress in humans can affect the developing child, the mechanisms and period of time when the fetus is susceptible is still unclear. This is the first study to show that maternal stress may affect the unborn child as early as 17 weeks in development. More work is now needed to better understand the mechanisms of this relationship and the implications to the unborn child.

Researcher Dr Pampa Sarkar said:

“We are all a product of our developmental history. One of the times when we are most susceptible to the influences of our surrounding environment is when we are developing as a fetus in our mother’s womb. Our research shows that the fetus is exposed to cortisol in the maternal blood, and we also demonstrated that at and above 17 weeks, the cortisol in amniotic fluid had a strong positive relationship with cortisol in maternal blood. We found that the strength of this correlation became stronger with increasing gestational age.

We now need to carry out further work to unravel the mechanisms by which maternal stress affects the fetus, both during fetal life and through into childhood. We do not wish to unduly worry pregnant women. It should be remembered that one of the best ways for people to avoid general stress is to lead a healthy, balanced lifestyle.”

Jennie Evans | alfa
Further information:
http://www.endocrinology.org

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht 'Living bandages': NUST MISIS scientists develop biocompatible anti-burn nanofibers
16.02.2018 | National University of Science and Technology MISIS

nachricht New process allows tailor-made malaria research
16.02.2018 | Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Contacting the molecular world through graphene nanoribbons

19.02.2018 | Materials Sciences

When Proteins Shake Hands

19.02.2018 | Materials Sciences

Cells communicate in a dynamic code

19.02.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>