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

rt. Moreover, of these patients born of such pregnancies, only the women had "blunted" cortisol response in a standardized measure of psychological stress, an observation that supported findings in animal studies. Furthermore, low cortisol levels were only observed in patients with a history of prenatal stress. While more study is needed, results collected so far provide strong evidence that girls may be at added risk for developing fibromyalgia if, while in the womb, they were exposed to higher than normal levels of cortisol produced by their mothers in response to stress.

Effects of steroid drug during pregnancy can span generations

A synthetic hormone commonly given to pregnant women at risk for delivering early not only can result in permanent changes to the newborn's neuroendocrine system, but may have even greater effects on those born in the next generation, indicate results from animal studies.

Approximately 7 percent of pregnant women are treated with synthetic glucocorticoid to help hasten lung development when pre-term birth seems likely. Both animal and human clinical studies have shown the treatment could have long-term effects on neuroendocrine function and behavior. Using a guinea pig model, Stephen G. Matthews, Ph.D., professor, physiology, obstetrics & gynecology and medicine, University of Toronto, Faculty of Medicine, has shown that late-pregnancy exposure affects neurotransmitter systems the brain's primary communications vehicle and makes fundamental changes to stress response mechanisms. Moreover, exposure in the womb to these synthetic hormones, which also have potent anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive properties, can have life-long consequences. According to Dr. Matthews' research, exposure affects the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA), which controls how the body responds to stress and is involved in regulation of energy balance and the immune system as well. Now, in more recent studies, his group
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22-Jun-2006


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