Fetal Exposure To Excessive Stress Hormones In Womb Is Linked To Adult Mood Disorders Research Papers Examples
It is an established fact that excessive amount of stress causing hormones cause mood disorders in adults. Such mood disorder may exhibit in the children or adults for the limited time period or may last for a longer time. A number of researches have corroborated the same and further research is going on to find mechanisms that may provide solution to this problem. Emotional state of mother, adverse environments, excessive stress, drug and alcohol use can increase glucocorticoids levels in mother that may harm the foetus or baby in the mother’s womb. This research paper proposes a discussion on fetal exposure to excessive stress hormones in womb is linked to adult mood disorders.
The mood disorders can be classified into two major categories: depressive disorders & bipolar disorders. Adults suffering with depressive disorders face certain situations of dejection and feeling of emotionally low. On other hand, in bipolar disorders, adults experience disruptive swings during different periods of dejection, and feel energetic, stimulated or provoked that is referred as mania. Depression can be classified as major and minor depression. Whereas, bipolar disorder can be classified as bipolar I, bipolar II, and catchall disorder.
The occurrence of depressive and bipolar disorders depends on various internal and external factors. However, it is common belief that mother should not undergo any major stress during her pregnancy in order to deliver a healthy and strong child, and to protect new born from adult mood disorders. Scientists and experts claim that emotional condition of pregnant woman affect fetus in the womb and impact of stress sometimes can be seen through lifespan and development of the child. Different research studies examined different factors that cause stress in pregnant mother, and their impact on fetus (Wyrwoll and Holmes, 2012).
DiPietro (2004) in their research article mentioned that mild stress during pregnancy is necessary in order to develop a strong child; however, excessive stress may negatively impact nervous system of the fetus. DiPietro says that stress during pregnancy negatively impacts learning, behaviour, along with motor development. According to scientists, Glucocorticoids or commonly identified as stress hormones is generated naturally inside human body and plays a major role in stress response. Cortisol, a stress hormone is an important factor that program fetus or child and exposed him or her to diseases in adulthood. Cortisol negatively impacts growth and timing required for tissue development. Cortisol also impacts gene that affect expression in human (DiPietro, 2004).
Kofma (2002) in his research study examined the linked between prenatal stress and developmental behavioural disorders. The study was conducted on rodents as well as non-human apes in order to examine impact of stress hormones motor behaviour, morphological modifications in brain, and responsiveness to stress. The study reveals that prenatal stress alter responsiveness of hypothalamic-pitutiary-adrenal levels, which impacts social behaviour of fetal during adulthood (Kofma, 2002).
According to research studies, nervous system & endocrine system in human body influence stress reactions. Epinephrine and norepinephrine are two major chemicals associated with nervous system that accelerate rate of sympathetic actions. These actions increase functions that are performed without attentive control such as high breathing rate, fight or flight attitude, fast heartbeat and high blood flow.
In endocrine system stress influence the activation of hypothalamus and produce corticotrophin-releasing substance or hormone. This hormone passes to pituitary gland and work as catalyst by positively influencing production of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). Adrenocorticotropic hormone travels to kidney region and influence cortisol’s production. Cortisol is stress hormone that impacts physical changes and encourages fight or flight type response (Maccari and Morley-Flethcher, 2007).
In adverse situation when pregnant woman get exposed to excessive stress, level of cortisol in the blood get increased and crosses placental barrier. Cortisol reached to the developing fetus and impacts the development of fetus if enters into fetal blood. Cortisol changed the ways by which genetic coding forms long-term blueprint that govern or control wide range of individual characteristics during childhood & adulthood. Therefore, high level of cortisol modifies expression of genetic codes which is commonly refers by the experts as fetal programming.
Different group of researchers examined and believe that cortisol impact on fetal programming has long-term results, which can be seen in the form of mood disorders during early age of during adulthood. In some cases the impact may last for few years, but in variety of cases the impact is observed through lifespan and different phases of development of child or adult. Variety of psychologists and medical experts while examine their research studies find a strong correlation between fetal programming and occurrence of variety of mood disorders during adulthood.
Hellemans et al. (2010) in their reserch study examined the association between stress, fetal programming and depression and anxiety disorders during later stage of life. The reserchers mentioned that children who exibit behavioral & neuropsychological problems, and mood disorders were exposed to some situations, which caused changes in fetal programming i.e. alternation of gene codding (Hellemans et al., 2010).
Dis-functioning or hyper activation of HPA (hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal) often results into depression or anxiety. Prenatal stress increases the activity of HPA, which create behavioral problems for fetus through his development life cycle. Megan Holmes, a neuroendocrinologist professor from university of Edinburgh who is also associated with British Heart Foundation Centre for cardiovascular science, suggests on the basis of his intensive research that a foetus that is exposed to stress hormones is prone of having mood disorders in his life (British Neuroscience Association, 2013).
According to the research study presented by British Neuroscience Association (2013), an explicit substance found in human body named 11 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 2 (an enzyme) holds capability to breeak down stress hormone i.e. cortisol in pregnant mothers. The break down of cortisol prevents it from passing placental barrier and keep fetus safe from any disturbance in fetal programming that occured due to presence of cortisol in fetus blood. Primary evidence colllected during the reserch study shows that pregnent women who do not have ample amount of ‘11 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 2 enzyme’ are on high risk of exposing their fetus to stree related disorders or mood disorders. Therefore, it is important for the pregnant woman to monitor their stress during pregnancy (British Neuroscience Association, 2013).
Reserchers and experts observed that there are specific development phases in which adults or children face high mood swings. For example in teenagers acheiving puberty is senstive time with regard to mood swings and stress. The symptoms of mood disorders can be examined at this time, and accuracy or changes in fetal pogramming can also be closely observed during this time. During normal development process or normal growth of children, a slight variation in mood or slight depression or mood upswing can not be identified as mood disorder; It also can not be linked with stress that fetus faced in the womb becasue slight variations in mood can be due to external factors. Therefore, a close observation and strong mood variation is essential in order to establish some concreat conclusion on the subject matter.
After observing and analysing abovementioned subject, the paper concludes that fetal exposures to excessive stress hormones in womb is linked to adult mood disorders. All the earlier and ongoing researches help people in different ways and help in finding an effective solution of the problem. The issue affects various aspects of the personality and an effective solution of this problem is unavoidable. Parents should understand that their baby is going to suffer for nothing, but because of the stress and problems that they face. Wide sentience is also necessary among people who work in the area of healthcare. Some preventive measures by parents, as well as, healthcare professionals can be very helpful in rectifying the problem in effective ways.
British Neuroscience Association (2013, April 7). Fetal exposure to excessive stress hormones in the womb linked to adult mood disorders. Retrieved March 25, 2015, from Science Daily: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130407090835.htm
DiPietro, J. A. (2004). The Role of Prenatal Maternal Stress in Child Development. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 13(2) , 71-74.
Hellemans, KGC, Sliwowska, JH, Verma, P., and Weingberg, J. (2010). Prenatal alcohol exposure: Fetal programming and later life vulnerability to stress, depression and anxiety disorders. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 34(6) , 791–807.
Kofman, O. (2002). The role of prenatal stress in the etiology of developmental behavioural disorders. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 26(4) , 457–470.
Maccari, S., and Morley-Flethcher, S. (2007). Effects of prenatal restraint stress on the hypothalamus–pituitary–adrenal axis and related behavioural and neurobiological alterations. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 32(1) , S10–S15.
Wyrwoll, C.S., and Holmes, M.C. (2012). Prenatal Excess Glucocorticoid Exposure and Adult Affective Disorders: A Role for Serotonergic and Catecholamine Pathways. Neuroendocrinology, 95(1) , 47–55.