Stress during pregnancy can affect fetal development, according to a study in the Journal of Physiology. The study tested increased amounts and regular amounts of the stress hormone, glucocorticoid, in pregnant mice, and found that the increased amounts led to a reduced ability of nutrition transfer.
The decrease in nutrition transport across the placenta to the fetus resulted to a decrease in fetal weight. According to the lead author of the study, “Glucocorticoid levels in pregnant women may determine the specific combination of nutrients received by the fetus and influence the long-term metabolic health of their children as a result.”
The research also showed that certain genes in the placenta were modified under stress, including one that signals availability of other substances like oxygen. The same gene also interacts with intracellular pathways that regulate growth and nutrient uptake in other tissues of the body.
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