Document Detail

The neurobiology of stress in human pregnancy: implications for prematurity and development of the fetal central nervous system.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  11589126     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Adverse early experience, including prenatal maternal psychosocial stress, has the potential to negatively influence developmental processes through both physiological and behavioral mechanisms. This in turn may have adverse consequences for the mental and physical health, well-being and aging of the individual throughout the entire life-span. We have initiated a program of research on humans to examine the consequences of maternal stress and related factors in pregnancy on the length of gestation, fetal growth, and brain development. We have also investigated the physiological mechanisms that are involved. In this chapter we outline the theoretical rationale for this work and give an overview of our findings to date. These findings support a significant and independent role for behavioral processes such as maternal prenatal stress in the etiology of prematurity-related outcomes, and suggest that these effects are mediated, in part, by the maternal-placental-fetal neuroendocrine axis; specifically by placental corticotropin-releasing hormone. Using a fetal challenge paradigm as a novel method for quantifying fetal neurologic maturity in utero, we have found that the maternal environment exerts a significant influence on the fetal autonomic nervous system and on central nervous system processes related to recognition, memory and habituation. Finally, our findings provide preliminary evidence to support the notion that the influence of prenatal stress and maternal-placental hormones on the developing fetus may persist after birth, as assessed by measures of temperament and behavioral reactivity in the first 3 years of postnatal life. The implications of these studies for life-span development and health are discussed.
P D Wadhwa; C A Sandman; T J Garite
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.; Review    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Progress in brain research     Volume:  133     ISSN:  0079-6123     ISO Abbreviation:  Prog. Brain Res.     Publication Date:  2001  
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2001-10-08     Completed Date:  2001-11-01     Revised Date:  2007-11-14    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0376441     Medline TA:  Prog Brain Res     Country:  Netherlands    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  131-42     Citation Subset:  IM    
Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, University of California, Irvine, College of Medicine, 3117 Gillespie Neuroscience Building, Irvine, CA 92697, USA.
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MeSH Terms
Central Nervous System / embryology*
Embryonic and Fetal Development*
Infant, Newborn
Infant, Premature*
Neurosecretory Systems / physiology
Pituitary-Adrenal System / physiology
Placenta / physiology
Pregnancy / physiology*,  psychology*
Grant Support

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