Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Pregnancy duration predicts stress response in the first months of life

Date:
August 28, 2012
Source:
Ruhr-Universitaet-Bochum
Summary:
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.

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-Universitδt 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."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Ruhr-Universitaet-Bochum. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Marion Tegethoff, Nicole Knierzinger, Andrea H. Meyer, Gunther Meinlschmidt. Cortisol awakening response in infants during the first six postnatal months and its relation to birth outcome. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 2012; DOI: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2012.08.002

Cite This Page:

Ruhr-Universitaet-Bochum. "Pregnancy duration predicts stress response in the first months of life." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 August 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120828073300.htm>.
Ruhr-Universitaet-Bochum. (2012, August 28). Pregnancy duration predicts stress response in the first months of life. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120828073300.htm
Ruhr-Universitaet-Bochum. "Pregnancy duration predicts stress response in the first months of life." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120828073300.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) — A disease that has killed more than six million cave-dwelling bats in the United States is on the move and wildlife biologists are worried. White Nose Syndrome, discovered in New York in 2006, has now spread to 25 states. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Companies Ramp Up Wellness to Lower Health Costs

Companies Ramp Up Wellness to Lower Health Costs

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) — That little voice telling you to exercise, get in shape and get healthy is probably coming from your boss. More companies are beefing up wellness programs to try and cut down their health care costs. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Blood From World's Oldest Woman Suggests Life Limit

Blood From World's Oldest Woman Suggests Life Limit

Newsy (Apr. 24, 2014) — Scientists say for the extremely elderly, their stem cells might reach a state of exhaustion. This could limit one's life span. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
FDA Wants To Ban Sales Of E-Cigarettes To Minors

FDA Wants To Ban Sales Of E-Cigarettes To Minors

Newsy (Apr. 24, 2014) — The Food and Drug Administration wants to crack down on the use of e-cigarettes, banning the sale of the product to minors. Video provided by Newsy
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:
from the past week

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