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J Perinat Neonatal Nurs. 1998 Mar;11(4):45-59.

Neonatal stress reactivity and cortisol.

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Perinatal Research Centre, Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.


Existing data point to the fact that adrenocortical responses are, at least in part, valid representatives of the stress response in term and some preterm infants. At the same time, however, there is conflict regarding the use of cortisol levels as a diagnostic tool in the neonatal intensive care unit. The article reviews the concept of neonatal intensive care unit stress and neonatal stress response development and provides a comprehensive literature review of cortisol production in term and preterm neonates. A neonatal stress response model is presented along with implications for caregiving.

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