English study: stress in pregnancy, the fetus grows less

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Marie-Ange Demory
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Stress hormones in pregnant women could affect the development of the fetus. This was discovered by a group of researchers from the University of Cambridge, UK, in a study published in The Journal of Physiology.

Read also: Stress in pregnancy

The researchers did an experiment on mice and found that the fetuses that were given a stress hormone, glucocorticoid, were smaller, even though the mothers ate more. This is because the glucocorticoid can affect the passage of glucose from the mother to the fetus.

"The results show that maternal glucocorticoids regulate the nutrition of the fetus," explained Owen Vaughan, author of the study. When a mother is stressed she has higher levels of glucocorticoid hormones. And these affect the transport of glucose from the placenta to the fetus, reducing it. The fetus thus receives less glucose. And that means decreased fetal weight.

In practice, glucocorticoids can affect the nutrients the fetus receives and, consequently, the long-term metabolic health of the unborn child.


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"Our research has shown that under stressful conditions, some genes in the placenta are changed. One of these is REDD1, which is believed to be responsible for signaling the availability of other substances, such as oxygen, and which interacts with pathways. intracellular that regulate the growth and absorption of nutrients in other tissues of the body, "Vaughan says.

Researchers argue the importance of this study for stressed-out pregnant women. However, it is not yet clear how the placenta changes or how the baby could be protected from the potential negative effects of this hormone. By doing new studies it will be possible to see if there is an appropriate diet capable of counteracting the negative effect of this hormone.

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