Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Stress can be inherited through Pregnancy

In today’s modern world it seems that pregnancy is as stressful as ever. The high levels of preterm birth in Alberta Canada is

If the stress affected the rats this much it makes sense that this same logic is applicable to pregnant women.  Something to keep in the back of your mind

"I think if you understand the mechanisms of how this is being generated — the footprint of stress — we have a means of predicting the risk of pre-term birth in future generations and finding certain interventions," said Gerlinde Metz, a professor of neuroscience and Alberta Heritage Foundation Medical Senior Scholar at the university and one of the researchers on the team.

“Researchers subjected rats to stress late in pregnancy and observed their offspring. They found that the daughters of stressed rats had shorter pregnancies than the daughters of rats not subjected to stress, and that the grand-daughters of stressed rats also showed shorter pregnancies even if their mothers had not been stressed.”

The study looked at four generations of maternally-related rats.
It found the stressed rats and their offspring also gained less weight during pregnancy and had higher blood glucose levels. As well, their offspring were smaller and had delays in behavioral development, all effects which were amplified over successive generations.

The researchers believe that these changes are due to epigenetics - the arrangement and expression of our genes.

Future research is planned to understand the mechanisms that generate these epigenetic signatures and how they are passed down from generation to generation.

With more knowledge of these mechanisms it may be possible to predict and prevent preterm pregnancy but also other diseases.

Prof Metz added: 'Preterm births can be caused by many factors, in our study we provide new insights into how stress in our mothers, grandmothers and beyond could influence our risk for pregnancy and childbirth complications.

The study appeared in the journal BMC Medicine.


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