Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Exposure to cortisol-like medications before birth may contribute to emotional problems, brain changes

Date:
October 31, 2013
Source:
Elsevier
Summary:
Neonatologists seem to perform miracles in the fight to support the survival of babies born prematurely. To promote their survival, cortisol-like drugs called glucocorticoids are administered frequently to women in preterm labor to accelerate their babies' lung maturation prior to birth, a substance naturally released by the body when stressed. But the levels of glucocorticoids administered to promote lung development are higher than that achieved with typical stress, similar to the body's reaction to extreme stresses.

Neonatologists seem to perform miracles in the fight to support the survival of babies born prematurely.

To promote their survival, cortisol-like drugs called glucocorticoids are administered frequently to women in preterm labor to accelerate their babies' lung maturation prior to birth. Cortisol is a substance naturally released by the body when stressed. But the levels of glucocorticoids administered to promote lung development are higher than that achieved with typical stress, perhaps only mirrored in the body's reaction to extreme stresses.

The benefit of glucocorticoids is undisputed and has certainly saved the lives of countless babies, but this exposure also may have some negative consequences. Indeed, excessive glucocorticoid levels may have effects on brain development, perhaps contributing to emotional problems later in life.

In this issue of Biological Psychiatry, Dr. Elysia Davis at the University of Denver and her colleagues report new findings on the effects of synthetic glucocorticoid on human brain development. Their study focused on healthy children who were born full-term, avoiding the confounding effects of premature birth.

The investigators conducted brain imaging sessions in and carefully assessed 54 children, 6-10 years of age. The mothers of the participating children also completed reports on their child's behavior. The researchers then divided the children into two groups: those who were exposed to glucocorticoids prenatally and those who were not.

In this study, children with fetal glucocorticoid exposure showed significant cortical thinning, and a thinner cortex also predicted more emotional problems. In one particularly affected part of the brain, the rostral anterior cingulate cortex, it was 8-9% thinner among children exposed to glucocorticoids. Interestingly, other studies have shown that this region of the brain is affected in individuals diagnosed with mood and anxiety disorders.

"Fetal exposure to a frequently administered stress hormone is associated with consequences for child brain development that persist for at least 6 to 10 years. These neurological changes are associated with increased risk for stress and emotional problems," Davis explained of their findings. "Importantly, these findings were observed among healthy children born full term."

Although such a finding does not indicate that glucocorticoids 'caused' these changes, the researchers did determine that the findings can't be explained by any obvious confounding differences between the groups. The two groups did not differ on weight or gestational age at birth, apgar scores, maternal factors, or any other basic demographics. Thus, the findings do suggest that glucocorticoid administration may somehow alter the trajectory of brain development of exposed children.

"This study provides evidence that prenatal exposure to stress hormones shapes the construction of the fetal nervous system with consequences for the developing brain that persist into the preadolescent period," she added.

"This study highlights potential links between early cortisol exposure, cortical thinning and mood symptoms in children. It may provide important insights into the development of the brain and the long-term impact of maternal stress," commented Dr. John Krystal, Editor of Biological Psychiatry.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Elysia Poggi Davis, Curt A. Sandman, Claudia Buss, Deborah A. Wing, Kevin Head. Fetal Glucocorticoid Exposure Is Associated with Preadolescent Brain Development. Biological Psychiatry, 2013; 74 (9): 647 DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2013.03.009

Cite This Page:

Elsevier. "Exposure to cortisol-like medications before birth may contribute to emotional problems, brain changes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131031090309.htm>.
Elsevier. (2013, October 31). Exposure to cortisol-like medications before birth may contribute to emotional problems, brain changes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131031090309.htm
Elsevier. "Exposure to cortisol-like medications before birth may contribute to emotional problems, brain changes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131031090309.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

TheStreet (July 21, 2014) New research shows Gilead Science's drug Sovaldi helps in curing hepatitis C in those who suffer from HIV. In a medical study, the combination of Gilead's Hep C drug with anti-viral drug Ribavirin cured 76% of HIV-positive patients suffering from the most common hepatitis C strain. Hepatitis C and related complications have been a top cause of death in HIV-positive patients. Typical medication used to treat the disease, including interferon proteins, tended to react badly with HIV drugs. However, Sovaldi's %1,000-a-pill price tag could limit the number of patients able to access the treatment. TheStreet's Keris Lahiff reports from New York. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com
$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

Newsy (July 20, 2014) Cynthia Robinson claims R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company hid the health and addiction risks of its products, leading to the death of her husband in 1996. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tooth Plaque Provides Insight Into Diets Of Ancient People

Tooth Plaque Provides Insight Into Diets Of Ancient People

Newsy (July 19, 2014) Research on plaque from ancient teeth shows that our prehistoric ancestor's had a detailed understanding of plants long before developing agriculture. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Contaminated Water Kills 3 Babies in South African Town

Contaminated Water Kills 3 Babies in South African Town

AFP (July 18, 2014) Contaminated water in South Africa's northwestern town of Bloemhof kills three babies and hospitalises over 500 people. The incident highlights growing fears over water safety in South Africa. Duration: 02:22 Video provided by AFP
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