Prenatal stress and risk for psychopathology: specific effects or induction of general susceptibility?
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SourcePsychological Bulletin, 130, 1, (2004), pp. 115-142
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ BSI OGG
SubjectEBP 1: Determinants in Health and Disease; UMCN 3.2: Cognitive neurosciences
This review focuses on prenatal stress as a risk factor for psychopathology. Evidence from animal studies is summarized, and the relevance of prenatal stress models in animals for human studies is discussed. In the offspring of prenatally stressed animals, overactivity and impaired negative feedback regulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis are consistent findings and may reflect a pathophysiological mechanism involved in the development of psychopathology. Reduced activity of the opioid GABA/benzodiazepine, serotonin, and dopamine systems and increased activity of the sympathico-adrenal system have been found as well. These alterations have been linked to a diverse spectrum of psychopathology. Therefore, the evidence supports the view that exposure to prenatal stress may result in a general susceptibility to psychopathology, rather than exerting a direct effect on a specific form of psychopathology.
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