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3 - Pre- and periconceptual health and the HPA axis

Nutrition and stress

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 February 2011

Graham J. Burton
Affiliation:
Department of Anatomy, University of Cambridge
David J. P. Barker
Affiliation:
MRC Epidemiology Resource Centre, University of Southampton
Ashley Moffett
Affiliation:
Department of Pathology, University of Cambridge
Kent Thornburg
Affiliation:
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Oregon Health and Sciences University, Portland, OR
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Summary

The state of stress may be produced in the body by many causes, but the hypothalamopituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis plays a central coordinating role in the response to both internal and external stressors, substantially mediated through the release of corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH) and arginine-vasopressin (AVP). At every stage healthy development presumes the ready availability of a suitable mix of nutrients to support the current needs for cellular growth, elaboration, maturation, function and replication. Placental function plays a critical determining role in the process of fetal programming and the determination of the fetal phenotype. The changes in growth are associated with long-term alterations in behaviour, circulating levels of glucocorticoids and the set of the HPA axis in the offspring. Prepregnancy obesity is increasingly common, and despite the reality of obesity-related infertility assisted technologies enable more to become pregnant.
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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2010

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