Prenatal Alcohol Exposure and Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis Activity of the Offspring in Humans: a Systematic Review

Elena Díaz-Miranda, Roser Nadal, Antonio Armario, Javier Labad*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Purpose of Review: We aimed to conduct a systematic review of studies exploring the relationship between prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis functioning in the offspring in humans. Recent Findings: Animal studies have demonstrated that PAE has long-term consequences in HPA axis activity in the offspring. Fewer studies have been conducted in humans. Summary: Our systematic review identified 9 studies including infants/toddlers (n = 6) and children/adolescents (n = 3). Cortisol responses to stress were only studied in infants/toddlers (3 studies: painful stressors; 3 studies: social stressors). In infants/toddlers, PAE seems to be associated with a blunted response to painful stressors whereas an enhanced cortisol response to social stress is observed (only in boys). In children/adolescents, the normal cortisol circadian rhythm is altered in PAE participants with a FASD diagnosis, who show increased evening cortisol levels. These findings support the programming effects of alcohol on the HPA stress system.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCurrent Addiction Reports
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted in press - 2021

Keywords

  • Alcohol
  • Cortisol
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal alcohol exposure
  • Prenatal stress

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