Breaking News
August 16, 2018 - Childhood exposure to secondhand smoke increases risk of COPD death in adulthood
August 16, 2018 - Scientists uncover key control mechanism of DNA replication
August 16, 2018 - NIH begins first-in-human trial of experimental live, attenuated Zika virus vaccine
August 16, 2018 - Two diabetes medications don’t slow progression of type 2 diabetes in youth
August 16, 2018 - 5 Questions: How Stanford research is making MRI scans safer for kids | News Center
August 16, 2018 - Columbia Celebrates 25th Anniversary of White Coat Ceremony
August 16, 2018 - Phonak’s new smallest and most discreet Virto B-Titanium hearing aid
August 16, 2018 - New project aims to study growth of water-based microorganisms
August 16, 2018 - New research confirms link between DDT exposure and autism
August 16, 2018 - Neurodevelopmental Anomalies, Birth Defects Linked to Zika ID’d
August 16, 2018 - Risk of heart failure up in ALVSD patients with diabetes
August 16, 2018 - Exercise reduces symptoms and fatigue in patients with chronic kidney disease
August 16, 2018 - Study reveals role of RUNX proteins in DNA repair
August 16, 2018 - New research finds no harm from average salt consumption
August 16, 2018 - Researchers develop new way of testing bacterial resistance to antibiotics
August 16, 2018 - Magnetic gene in aquarium fish could open doors to treatment for epilepsy, Parkinson’s
August 16, 2018 - Five tips for successful long-term breastfeeding
August 16, 2018 - Researchers identify brain networks involved in object naming
August 16, 2018 - Promoting HPV Vaccine Doesn’t Prompt Risky Sex by Teens: Study
August 16, 2018 - Treating Rheumatoid Arthritis: Search for a Cure
August 16, 2018 - Research shows in the long run, charcoal toothpaste likely won’t whiten teeth
August 16, 2018 - Seattle Children’s opens new clinic to provide convenient access to pediatric specialty care services
August 16, 2018 - Curious case of the lost contact lens
August 16, 2018 - GN Hearing unveils world’s first Premium-Plus hearing aid
August 16, 2018 - Parental life span linked with increased longevity and health in daughters
August 16, 2018 - Health leaders reveal ten most important medicines in NHS history
August 16, 2018 - Mobile health devices diagnose hidden heart condition in at-risk populations
August 16, 2018 - When it comes to shedding pounds, it pays to think big
August 16, 2018 - Liva Healthcare announces appointment of Thomas Cooke as clinical services manager in the UK
August 16, 2018 - New digital pharmacy aims to help people living with chronic care conditions
August 16, 2018 - Preventing ACL injuries in high school athletes
August 16, 2018 - Experts provide insight into novel concepts and approaches for stroke rehabilitation
August 16, 2018 - Scientists reverse congenital blindness in mouse model
August 16, 2018 - Study shows link between use of benzodiazepines and increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease
August 16, 2018 - Study provides new insight into how ‘trash bag of the cell’ traps and seals off waste
August 16, 2018 - Trial shows PARP inhibitor as novel treatment option for patients with advanced breast cancers
August 16, 2018 - Prenatal exposure to violence increases toddlers’ aggressive behavior to their mothers
August 16, 2018 - Can manipulating gut microbes improve cardiac function in patients with heart failure?
August 16, 2018 - Hearts of newborn piglets can completely heal after heart attacks
August 16, 2018 - Ablating the mutant p53 gene in mice with colorectal cancer inhibits tumor growth
August 16, 2018 - Higher BMI in people with prediabetes related to evening preference and lack of sufficient sleep
August 16, 2018 - Using peripheral nerve blocks to treat facial pain may produce long-term pain relief
August 16, 2018 - Neural stem cells are the key to tail regeneration
August 16, 2018 - Study compares genetic and neural contributions to ADHD in children with or without TBI
August 16, 2018 - Adding energy drinks to alcohol may exacerbate negative effects of binge drinking
August 16, 2018 - Eye Examination Can Help Detect Abuse in Children
August 16, 2018 - Know the Difference: Rheumatoid Arthritis or Osteoarthritis?
August 16, 2018 - From ‘sea of mutations,’ two possible cancer links rise to the surface
August 16, 2018 - Does medical school take too long?
August 16, 2018 - Brown University researchers reveal key physical properties of ‘giant’ cancer cells
August 16, 2018 - Regular resistance training improves exercise motivation
August 16, 2018 - Feds urge states to encourage cheaper plans off the exchanges
August 16, 2018 - Seven activities that prevent you from getting quality sleep during summer
August 16, 2018 - Five ways to tell if your baby is getting enough milk from breastfeeding
August 16, 2018 - From Pigs to Peacocks, What’s Up With Those ‘Emotional-Support Animals’?
August 16, 2018 - Breast cancers enlist the help of normal cells to help them spread and survive
August 16, 2018 - Engaging with “high-need” patients outside the clinic
August 16, 2018 - Research illuminates how online forum may offer suicide prevention support for males
August 16, 2018 - Researchers identify way to grow immune cells at large scale for preventing cancer reoccurrence
August 15, 2018 - Keck Medicine of USC’s hospitals ranked among nation’s best for the 10th consecutive year
August 15, 2018 - Researchers compare existing approaches for automating diagnostic procedures of skin lesions
August 15, 2018 - Autism risk determined by health of mom’s gut, research reveals
August 15, 2018 - WELL for Life challenges you to explore the great outdoors
August 15, 2018 - ‘Zombie’ gene protects elephants from cancer, study finds
August 15, 2018 - Ebola outbreak in Congo spreads to active combat zone
August 15, 2018 - Study highlights pollution exposure of babies in prams
August 15, 2018 - Study provides insight into link between sleep apnea and lipid metabolism
August 15, 2018 - New study focuses on promise of gene therapy for Amish nemaline myopathy
August 15, 2018 - Researchers discover new approach to alleviate chronic itch
August 15, 2018 - Uncovering the Mysteries of MS: Medical Imaging Helps NIH Researchers Understand the Tricky Disease
August 15, 2018 - Autistic people at greater risk of becoming homeless – new research
August 15, 2018 - New imaging technique can spot tuberculosis infection in an hour
August 15, 2018 - Scientists study effects of eating breakfast versus fasting overnight before exercise
August 15, 2018 - Talking with children about suicide could save lives
August 15, 2018 - Grip strength of children predicts future cardiometabolic health
August 15, 2018 - New polyclonal immunotherapy successfully neutralizes Ebola virus
August 15, 2018 - Innovative oncofertility program launched by RMA of New York and Mount Sinai Health System
August 15, 2018 - Study shows efficacy, safety of AAV5-based gene therapy to treat sheep model of achromatopsia
August 15, 2018 - Simple score helps predict which hospitalized heart attack patients are at high risk of readmissions
August 15, 2018 - New discoveries show how protein droplets do more than keep cells’ interiors tidy
Researchers find high levels of stress hormone cortisol in pregnant women with PTSD

Researchers find high levels of stress hormone cortisol in pregnant women with PTSD

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print

Research has shown that a woman’s emotional and physical health during pregnancy impacts a developing fetus. However, less is known about the effect of past stressors and posttraumatic stress disorder on an expectant woman.

To that end, researchers at the University of Michigan measured the stress hormone cortisol in pregnant women from early pregnancy to when their baby was 6 weeks old. They found that those with a dissociative type of PTSD that’s often related to childhood abuse or trauma had levels up to 10 times higher than their peers.

These toxic levels of cortisol may contribute to health problems in the next generation, said Julia Seng, professor of nursing and lead author on the study.

“We know from research on the developmental origins of health and disease that the baby’s first environment in its mother’s body has implications for health across the lifespan,” Seng said. “Higher exposure to cortisol may signal the fetus to adapt in ways that help survival, but don’t help health and longevity. This finding is very useful because it helps us know which women are most likely to exhibit the highest level of stress and stress hormones during pregnancy and postpartum.”

Cortisol is sometimes called the stress hormone because it’s released in stressful situations as part of the flight-or-fight response. Cortisol levels that stay high are linked to serious health problems such as heart disease and high blood pressure, and can fuel weight gain, depression and anxiety plus a host of other problems. The effect of elevated cortisol on a developing fetus isn’t well understood, but high cortisol and stress also contribute to preterm birth

In the study, 395 women expecting their first child were divided into four groups: those without trauma, those with a trauma but no PTSD, those with classic PTSD and those with dissociative PTSD.

Researchers measured salivary cortisol at different times during the day. Then 111 of those women gave saliva specimens until postpartum. The difference in cortisol was greatest in early pregnancy, when levels were eight times higher in the afternoon and 10 times higher at bedtime for the dissociative group than for other women.

About 8 percent of pregnant women in the study had PTSD, a disorder that results when symptoms of anxiety and fear persist well after exposure to stressful events. About 14 percent of that group had the more complex dissociative PTSD, which was associated with higher cortisol.

It’s been a mystery in our field why cortisol is sometimes high with PTSD and sometimes not,” Seng said. “This finding that in pregnancy it’s only the dissociative subgroup that has high cortisol gives us more to go on for future research.”

Seng was surprised at how high the cortisol was in the dissociative group. She also said researchers expected women with classic PTSD to experience elevated cortisol as well, and the fact that they didn’t is good news.

“We can do something for the 1-to-2 out of 100 pregnant women who have this dissociative PTSD,” Seng said. “We can work with them to make pregnancy, maternity care, labor, breastfeeding and early parenting less likely to trigger stress reactions. And we can connect them to mental health services when they are ready to treat their PTSD.”

Seng and collaborator Mickey Sperlich have developed a PTSD-specific education program for pregnant woman with a childhood trauma called the Survivor Moms’ Companion, which has been piloted in Michigan and is currently being piloted in England.

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles