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Baby girls born to mothers burdened by stress may be at risk for fibromyalgia

PITTSBURGH Stressful or traumatic events experienced during pregnancy can have long-lasting effects on the fetus, yet these effects may not become apparent until many years later, according to a study suggesting that girls born of such pregnancies may be at greater risk for developing a painful muscle condition called fibromyalgia as adults.

The study, presented at the 6th International Congress of Neuroendocrinology (ICN 2006), shows how vulnerable a fetus is to "prenatal programming." Indeed, animal studies presented at ICN 2006 indicate that a synthetic hormone commonly given to pregnant women at risk for delivering early can permanently affect the newborn's neuroendocrine system and may have even more profound effects on those born in the next generation. ICN 2006 is being held at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh June 19 22.

Summaries of these studies' findings follow:

Stress during pregnancy may put baby girls at later risk for fibromyalgia

New research suggests girls who were born following pregnancies that were encumbered by stressful life events may be at greater risk for developing fibromyalgia later in life. While little is known about the causes of fibromyalgia, a condition affecting mostly women and characterized by extreme fatigue and widespread muscle pain, the studies led by Dirk Hellhammer, Ph.D., professor of psychobiology at the University of Trier, Germany, indicate "prenatal programming" likely plays a role. Stress experienced during pregnancy can affect the development of the fetus's adrenal gland, permanently limiting its capacity for producing adequate amounts of the hormone cortisol, he reports.

Compared to 100 healthy female control subjects, significantly more patients among the 93 women diagnosed with fibromyalgia reported their mothers had experienced profound stress during pregnancy, such as the loss of a partner, physical or emotional trauma or lack of social suppo
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22-Jun-2006


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