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Dev Psychobiol. 2011 Mar;53(2):175-83. doi: 10.1002/dev.20510. Epub 2010 Nov 23.

Prenatal treatment with glucocorticoids sensitizes the hpa axis response to stress among full-term infants.

Author information

1
Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, University of California, 333 City Blvd W., Suite 1200, Orange, CA 92868, USA. edavis@uci.edu

Abstract

The objective of this study was to determine the consequences for HPA axis functioning among healthy full-term newborns of prenatal treatment with the synthetic glucocorticoid (GC), betamethasone, which is the routine treatment for threatened preterm delivery. Ninety full-term infants were recruited into two study groups (30 betamethasone treated; 60 comparison group matched for GA at birth and sex). The cortisol and behavioral response to the painful stress of a heel-stick blood draw was assessed 24 hr after birth. Full-term infants exposed to prenatal betamethasone displayed a larger cortisol response to the heel-stick procedure, despite no differences in baseline levels. Further, within the recommended window of betamethasone administration (24-34 gestational weeks), infants exposed to betamethasone earlier in gestation displayed the largest cortisol response to the heel-stick. These data add to accumulating evidence that prenatal exposure to elevated GCs programs the development of the HPA axis.

PMID:
21298632
DOI:
10.1002/dev.20510
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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