Elevated prenatal cortisol has been associated with several negative conditions including aborted fetuses, excessive fetal activity, delayed fetal growth and development, prematurity and low birthweight, attention and temperament problems in infancy, externalizing problems in childhood, and psychopathology and chronic illness in adulthood. Given that maternal prenatal cortisol crosses the placenta and influences other aspects of the prenatal environment, these effects on the fetus and later development are not surprising. Cortisol would appear to be a mediating variable, resulting from prenatal stress in several forms including depression, anxiety, anger, and daily hassles. Cortisol effects are further complicated by its interaction with neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine, which may itself.
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