Stress during pregnancy can affect fetal development

26 January 2015

Experiencing stress during pregnancy can actually affect foetal development, a new study has claimed. 

Published in the Journal of Physiology, the research focused on the effect of natural glucocorticoid corticosterone at different times during a pregnancy. The team found that increased levels of glucocorticoid stress hormones in pregnant mice caused the mother to eat more. However, it also reduced the ability of the placenta to transport glucose to her foetus.

Dr Owen Vaughan, lead author of the study, said the findings show that maternal glucocorticoids control foetal nutrition. 

Higher glucocorticoid hormone levels in the mother, as noted when experiencing stressful conditions, can inhibit glucose communication to the placenta and reduce the weight of the foetus, Dr Vaughan explained.

He said: "Our research showed that under stress, certain genes in the placenta were modified. One of the genes shown to be altered in the placenta by maternal stress hormones was Redd1."

This gene is linked to signal availability of other substances, such as oxygen, and interaction with pathways that help regulate growth and nutrient uptake in other tissues of the body. 

Posted by ​Phillip Briggs 

 

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