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Child Dev. 1985 Aug;56(4):824-34.

Coping with aversive stimulation in the neonatal period: quiet sleep and plasma cortisol levels during recovery from circumcision.


Measures of behavioral state and plasma cortisol were obtained on 80 healthy, full-term, 2-3-day-old, male newborns who were scheduled to be circumcised. To establish baseline or precircumcision levels, the newborns were observed, and behavioral state was recorded for the half hour prior to circumcision. Blood was sampled via heelstick for plasma cortisol determination at the end of this observation period. The newborns were then circumcised and assigned randomly to one of 4 postcircumcision, blood-sampling time-point groups. The time points were 30, 90, 120, and 240 min following the beginning of circumcision. Behavioral state was observed during circumcision and for the half hour prior to taking the second blood sample. The results showed a return to baseline cortisol levels sometime prior to 240 min, with data from an additional group of 10 newborns indicating that the return occurred by 150 min. Behavioral distress during circumcision was associated with elevations in plasma cortisol at 30 and 90 min. Quiet sleep was correlated negatively with plasma cortisol prior to circumcision, and significant increases in quiet sleep followed circumcision, with the greatest increase corresponding to the period of most rapid reductions in cortisol.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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