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 


Health News is provided by Adfero in collaboration with Spire Healthcare. Please note that all copy above is ©Adfero Ltd. and does not reflect views or opinions of Spire Healthcare unless explicitly stated. Additional comments on the page from individual Spire consultants do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of other consultants or Spire Healthcare.

Find a treatment, test or scan available at:


Find a consultant

Use one or more of the options below to search for a consultant and link through to view their Spire profile.


Let us help you

fill out this form and we will get back to you:

Please select a hospital

We can call you

Please enter your details below and we will call you back.

What is the aim of your enquiry?

Please select a hospital

If we are unable to reach you by phone, please include your email address so that we can get in touch...



© Spire Healthcare Group plc (2016)