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Stressed mother, stressed child

点击量:   时间:2019-03-08 11:07:00

By Ian Anderson in Melbourne BABIES of mothers who suffer stress early in their pregnancy are likely to suffer from high blood pressure as adults. This, at least, is the implication of work on pregnant sheep in Melbourne. Earlier studies in Britain have suggested that low birthweight caused by poor nutrition during pregnancy could lead to high blood pressure and hypertension later in life (The Lancet, vol 341, p 938). But this latest work is believed to be the first to show that severe emotional or physical stress early on in pregnancy can have the same effect. Over a 48-hour period, Miodrag Dodic from the Howard Florey Institute in Melbourne gave 0.48 milligrams per hour of the synthetic stress hormone dexamethasone to two sets of pregnant ewes. The sheep in one group were between 22 and 29 days into their pregnancies and those in the other were in mid-pregnancy, at 59 to 66 days. Sheep normally give birth after about 150 days. A control group of ewes was not given the hormone. The team found that the lambs born to mothers given the hormone early in pregnancy developed high blood pressure as adults. The lambs whose mothers were given the hormone in mid-pregnancy did not have high blood pressure. “The implications are that the baby whose mother suffers a short traumatic experience, probably during the first three months of pregnancy, may have been programmed to have high blood pressure as an adult,” says Dodic, although the mechanism is unknown. He says the finding should apply to other mammals with long gestation periods, such as humans. Dodic will present the research next week at a joint meeting in Brisbane of four physiological societies organised by the University of Queensland and Griffith University. In the West, at least 25 per cent of men and women over 45 years of age develop high blood pressure,