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Effects of perinatal stress and maternal traumatic stress on the cortisol regulation of preterm infants.
Journal of Traumatic Stress
Publication types: Journal ArticlePublication Status: ppublish
Preterm infants experience intense stress during the perinatal period because they endure painful and intense medical procedures. Repeated activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis during this period may have long-term effects on subsequent cortisol regulation. A premature delivery may also be intensely stressful for the parents, and they may develop symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Usable saliva samples were collected (4 times per day over 2 days, in the morning at awakening, at midday, in the afternoon, and in the evening before going to bed) to assess the diurnal cortisol regulation from 46 preterm infants when the infants were 12 months of corrected age (∼ 14 months after birth). Mothers reported their level of PTSD symptoms. The results showed an interaction between perinatal stress and maternal traumatic stress on the diurnal cortisol slope of preterm infants (R(2) = .32). This suggests that the HPA axis of preterm infants exposed to high perinatal stress may be more sensitive to subsequent environmental stress.
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