Fetal stress begets adult hypertension | Science News

Be a Champion for Science

Get your subscription to

Science News when you join.


Fetal stress begets adult hypertension

9:42am, May 8, 2002

From New Orleans, La., at Experimental Biology 2002

In early pregnancy, several days of intense, unremitting mental stress in a mother–such as might occur with the death of a loved one or loss of a job–may reprogram a baby's development in ways that foster high blood pressure in adulthood. That conclusion, from Australian studies with sheep, supplies a physiologic basis for the link between fetal stress and adult hypertension that has been suggested by several studies of human populations.

E. Marelyn Wintour-Coghlan and her colleagues at the University of Melbourne continuously administered cortisol–a natural stress hormone–to pregnant sheep for 2 days during their 5-month pregnancies. The researchers induced blood concentrations of cortisol that are typical in highly stressed animals. In an upcoming FASEB Journal, Wintour-Coghlan's team reports that cortisol can cross the placenta from mother to fetus.

This article is available only to subscribing members. Join the Society today or Log in.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News