Saturday January 25, 2020

Stress During Pregnancy Increases Risk of Mood Disorder in Daughters

The researchers then used brain imaging to examine connectivity in the newborns soon after birth, before the external environment had begun shaping brain development,

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Maternal stress can increase mood disorder risk in daughters: Study
Maternal stress can increase mood disorder risk in daughters: Study Pixabay

Daughters born to women with high levels of cortisol — a stress hormone — during pregnancy could be at an increased risk of developing anxious and depressive-like behaviours by the age of two, a new study has reported.

The effect of elevated maternal cortisol appeared to result from patterns of stronger communication between brain regions important for sensory and emotion processing.

It could be because maternal stress may alter connectivity in amygdala — a brain region important for emotion processing — in the developing foetus, suggesting that vulnerability for developing a mood disorder is programmed from birth.

This could be an early point at which the risk for common psychiatric disorders begins to differ in males and females, the researchers explained.

“Higher maternal cortisol during pregnancy was linked to alterations in the newborns’ functional brain connectivity, affecting how different brain regions can communicate with each other,” said Claudia Buss from Charite University Medicine Berlin in Germany.

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Higher maternal cortisol during pregnancy was linked to alterations in the newborns’ functional brain connectivity. Pixabay

“Many mood and anxiety disorders are approximately twice as common in females as in males. The study highlights one unexpected sex-specific risk factor for mood and anxiety disorders in females,” said John Krystal, Editor of Biological Psychiatry, in which the study is published.

Conversely, sons born to mothers with high cortisol during pregnancy did not demonstrate the stronger brain connectivity, or an association between maternal cortisol and mood symptoms, the researchers said.

For the study, the team measured cortisol levels over multiple days in early, mid and late pregnancy.

Also Read: Microbes May be Stirring Up Anxiety and Depression in Obese People

Measurements taken from nearly 100 mothers reflected typical variation in maternal cortisol levels.

The researchers then used brain imaging to examine connectivity in the newborns soon after birth, before the external environment had begun shaping brain development, and measured infant anxious and depressive-like behaviours at two years of age. (IANS)

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Here’s Why Stress Can Make Your Hair Go Gray

The researchers found that stress causes these nerves to release the chemical norepinephrine, which gets taken up by nearby pigment-regenerating stem cells

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The research, published in the journal Nature, found that stress activates nerves that are part of the fight-or-flight response, which in turn cause permanent damage to pigment-regenerating stem cells in hair follicles. Pixabay

Those annoying gray hair that tend to crop up with age really are signs of stress, according to a new study.

The research, published in the journal Nature, found that stress activates nerves that are part of the fight-or-flight response, which in turn cause permanent damage to pigment-regenerating stem cells in hair follicles.

“We wanted to understand if this connection is true, and if so, how stress leads to changes in diverse tissues. Hair pigmentation is such an accessible and tractable system to start with — and besides, we were genuinely curious to see if stress indeed leads to hair graying,” said study senior author Ya-Chieh Hsu from Harvard University in the US.

Because stress affects the whole body, researchers first had to narrow down which body system was responsible for connecting stress to hair colour.

The team first hypothesised that stress causes an immune attack on pigment-producing cells. However, when mice lacking immune cells still showed hair graying, researchers turned to the hormone cortisol. But once more, it was a dead end. “Stress always elevates levels of the hormone cortisol in the body, so we thought that cortisol might play a role,” Hsu said.

“But surprisingly, when we removed the adrenal gland from the mice so that they couldn’t produce cortisol-like hormones, their hair still turned gray under stress,” Hsu added. After systematically eliminating different possibilities, researchers honed in on the sympathetic nerve system, which is responsible for the body’s fight-or-flight response.

Sympathetic nerves branch out into each hair follicle on the skin. The researchers found that stress causes these nerves to release the chemical norepinephrine, which gets taken up by nearby pigment-regenerating stem cells. In the hair follicle, certain stem cells act as a reservoir of pigment-producing cells.

When hair regenerates, some of the stem cells convert into pigment-producing cells that colour the hair. Researchers found that the norepinephrine from sympathetic nerves causes the stem cells to activate excessively. The stem cells all convert into pigment-producing cells, prematurely depleting the reservoir.

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Those annoying gray hair that tend to crop up with age really are signs of stress, according to a new study. Pixabay

To connect stress with hair graying, the researchers started with a whole-body response and progressively zoomed into individual organ systems, cell-to-cell interaction and eventually all the way down to molecular dynamics. “We know that peripheral neurons powerfully regulate organ function, blood vessels, and immunity, but less is known about how they regulate stem cells,” said study researcher Isaac Chiu.

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“With this study, we now know that neurons can control stem cells and their function, and can explain how they interact at the cellular and molecular level to link stress with hair graying,” Chiu added. (IANS)