Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Study Suggests Maternal Stress And Stress Hormones May Influence Fetal Brain Development In Utero

Date:
March 10, 1999
Source:
University Of Kentucky Medical Center
Summary:
University of Kentucky Chandler Medical Center researcher Pathik D. Wadhwa and his colleagues have presented a study which suggests maternal stress and stress hormones influence fetal brain development. Although maternal factors such a stress and stress hormones have been shown to play a significant role in pregnancy outcomes related to prematurity, their influence on fetal brain development is not well understood, Wadhwa said.

LEXINGTON, KY (March 8, 1999) - University of Kentucky Chandler Medical Center researcher Pathik D. Wadhwa, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of behavioral science, UK College of Medicine, and his colleagues, presented a study which suggests maternal stress and stress hormones influence fetal brain development. Wadhwa was lead presenter of the study at the 20th annual Scientific Sessions of the Society of Behavioral Medicine held March 3-6 in San Diego.

Although maternal factors such a stress and stress hormones have been shown to play a significant role in pregnancy outcomes related to prematurity, their influence on fetal brain development is not well understood, Wadhwa said. However, in this most recent study, research was conducted to examine whether features of the maternal environment were associated with measures of fetal brain function.

An experimental measure of fetal brain function was developed by quantifying fetal heart rate responses to a series of external stimuli using an instrument that produces both sound and vibration similar to an electric toothbrush. This instrument routinely is used by obstetricians in clinical practice to awaken a sleeping fetus. The study sample was comprised of 156 mother-fetus pairs at 33 weeks gestation.

Maternal assessments included interviews and questionnaires to assess psychosocial and behavioral factors such as stress, maternal blood samples for bioassays of maternal and placental stress hormones and medical records to obtain information related to obstetric risk factors.

The study results indicated fetuses exhibited a significant and sustained increase in heart rate responses to the vibroacoustic challenge protocol. There were marked individual differences in the pattern of fetal responses to the instrument, Wadhwa said. Characteristics of the challenge protocol, such as the number of stimuli and time interval between successive stimuli, were associated with the overall pattern of fetal responses. After adjusting for these effects, maternal factors related to medical, endocrine, psychosocial and behavioral stress significantly were associated with the overall pattern of fetal responses.

The magnitude of the fetal responses to challenge was greater in women with medical problems, high levels of stress hormones, high levels of psychological stress, and low levels of social support, according to the study. The study is among the first to suggest that factors related to medical, endocrine and psychosocial stress during human pregnancy may negatively impact fetal brain development and function, as evidenced by their relationship with measures of fetal reactivity and learning. The effects of early environment on development are believed to be like those of a double-edged sword, wherein optimal environments may produce beneficial effects, and hostile environments, such as that effected by prenatal stress, may produce detrimental effects on brain development.

Researchers now are involved in new studies at the University of Kentucky and the University of California to further clarify the effects of maternal stress during pregnancy on fetal as well as infant brain and other developmental and health outcomes.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Kentucky Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Kentucky Medical Center. "Study Suggests Maternal Stress And Stress Hormones May Influence Fetal Brain Development In Utero." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 March 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/03/990310053349.htm>.
University Of Kentucky Medical Center. (1999, March 10). Study Suggests Maternal Stress And Stress Hormones May Influence Fetal Brain Development In Utero. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/03/990310053349.htm
University Of Kentucky Medical Center. "Study Suggests Maternal Stress And Stress Hormones May Influence Fetal Brain Development In Utero." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/03/990310053349.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

CDC Revamps Ebola Guidelines After Criticism

CDC Revamps Ebola Guidelines After Criticism

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued new protocols for healthcare workers interacting with Ebola patients. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
CDC Issues New Ebola Guidelines for Health Workers

CDC Issues New Ebola Guidelines for Health Workers

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 21, 2014) The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has set up new guidelines for health workers taking care of patients infected with Ebola. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) Where's a body buried? Buster's nose can often tell you. He's a cadaver dog, specially trained to find human remains and increasingly being used by law enforcement and accepted in courts. These dogs are helping solve even decades-old mysteries. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins