The Influence of Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone on Human Fetal Development and Parturition

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Hypothalamic corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) is a neuropeptide that has a central role in responses to stress. During pregnancy, CRH also is synthesized by the placenta. This paper focuses on the effects of placental CRH on two outcomes: timing of onset of parturition and fetal development. It appears that premature elevation of placental CRH during pregnancy may contribute to shorter gestational lengths. Also, CRH may affect fetal development. Our data show that the fetuses of women with CRH concentrations exceeding the normal range show different responses to stimulation than fetuses of women with concentrations in the normal range. This finding is consistent with other work demonstrating the importance of the intrauterine environment in long-term health and development.


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* Laura M. Glynn, Ph.D., [dagger] Pathik D. Wadhwa, M.D., Ph.D., and * Curt A. Sandman, Ph.D.

* Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, University of California, [dagger] Irvine Department of Behavioral Science, University of Kentucky. Direct correspondence to Laura Glynn, Ph.D., Fairview Developmental Center, 2501 Harhor Blvd., Costa Mesa, CA 92626

This research was supported, in part, by US PHS (NIH) grants HD-28413, HD-33506 and HD-28202.