Cesarean delivery’s effects on birth hormones may lead to neurodevelopmental consequences

Cesarean section delivery and vaginal delivery lead to different hormonal exposures that may affect a newborn’s development, according to an article published in the Journal of Neuroendocrinology.

The article notes that levels of each of the ‘birth signaling hormones’—oxytocin, arginine vasopressin, epinephrine, norepinephrine, and the glucocorticoids—are lower following cesarean delivery compared with vaginal delivery. These hormones may play various roles in helping an infant adapt following birth, and alterations in their levels in early life can result in long-term neurodevelopmental consequences.

Given that nearly one-third of all births in the U.S. currently occur via cesarean delivery, it’s important that we try to understand whether the well-established epidemiological associations between cesarean delivery and various neurodevelopmental outcomes—such as higher rates of autism and obesity—are due to changes in these important hormones during the sensitive period that is birth.”

William Kenkel, PhD, Author, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of Delaware

Journal reference:

Kenkel, W., et al. (2020) Birth signalling hormones and the developmental consequences of caesarean delivery. Journal of Neuroendocrinology.

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