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Multiparity reveals the blunting effect of breastfeeding on physiological reactivity to psychological stress.
J Neuroendocrinol. 2006 Jul; 18(7):494-503.JN

Abstract

Rat studies show that hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) responsiveness to physical and emotional stressors is attenuated during lactation, although situations evoking pup endangerment can supersede this phenomenon. In the human population, blunted cortisol responses are seen in primiparous breastfeeding compared to bottlefeeding mothers following physical stress, but not after psychosocial stress. It is currently unknown whether stressor salience (child-related versus nonrelated stressor) has a differential effect on cortisol reactivity as a function of infant feeding choice and whether HPA responses to stress could be modified by parity. We investigated the impact of infant feeding type and maternal parity on salivary cortisol and alpha-amylase response to stress in 5-20-week postpartum mothers using exposure to the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST) and to an emotional film evoking threats to a child. Analyses show that alpha-amylase responses were similar in all groups and for both types of stress, suggesting that sympathetic reactivity was independent of infant feeding type and parity. By contrast, cortisol response was affected by these variables. In primiparous mothers, cortisol reactivity to psychological stressors did not vary as a function of infant feeding type while, among multiparous mothers, breastfeeding was associated with reduced responsiveness to the TSST and child-related stressor. We speculate that changes in neural mechanisms occurring as a result of pregnancy and lactation and that modulate the HPA axis in women might be exacerbated with multiple repeats of the pregnancy/lactation period. This would serve to 'desensitise' stress circuits and reduce the overall stress-induced cortisol secretion after multiple births.

Authors+Show Affiliations

Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, Department of Psychiatry, McGill University, Douglas Hospital Research Centre, Montreal, Canada.No affiliation info availableNo affiliation info available

Pub Type(s)

Comparative Study
Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

Language

eng

PubMed ID

16774498

Citation

Tu, M T., et al. "Multiparity Reveals the Blunting Effect of Breastfeeding On Physiological Reactivity to Psychological Stress." Journal of Neuroendocrinology, vol. 18, no. 7, 2006, pp. 494-503.
Tu MT, Lupien SJ, Walker CD. Multiparity reveals the blunting effect of breastfeeding on physiological reactivity to psychological stress. J Neuroendocrinol. 2006;18(7):494-503.
Tu, M. T., Lupien, S. J., & Walker, C. D. (2006). Multiparity reveals the blunting effect of breastfeeding on physiological reactivity to psychological stress. Journal of Neuroendocrinology, 18(7), 494-503.
Tu MT, Lupien SJ, Walker CD. Multiparity Reveals the Blunting Effect of Breastfeeding On Physiological Reactivity to Psychological Stress. J Neuroendocrinol. 2006;18(7):494-503. PubMed PMID: 16774498.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - Multiparity reveals the blunting effect of breastfeeding on physiological reactivity to psychological stress. AU - Tu,M T, AU - Lupien,S J, AU - Walker,C-D, PY - 2006/6/16/pubmed PY - 2006/9/30/medline PY - 2006/6/16/entrez SP - 494 EP - 503 JF - Journal of neuroendocrinology JO - J Neuroendocrinol VL - 18 IS - 7 N2 - Rat studies show that hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) responsiveness to physical and emotional stressors is attenuated during lactation, although situations evoking pup endangerment can supersede this phenomenon. In the human population, blunted cortisol responses are seen in primiparous breastfeeding compared to bottlefeeding mothers following physical stress, but not after psychosocial stress. It is currently unknown whether stressor salience (child-related versus nonrelated stressor) has a differential effect on cortisol reactivity as a function of infant feeding choice and whether HPA responses to stress could be modified by parity. We investigated the impact of infant feeding type and maternal parity on salivary cortisol and alpha-amylase response to stress in 5-20-week postpartum mothers using exposure to the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST) and to an emotional film evoking threats to a child. Analyses show that alpha-amylase responses were similar in all groups and for both types of stress, suggesting that sympathetic reactivity was independent of infant feeding type and parity. By contrast, cortisol response was affected by these variables. In primiparous mothers, cortisol reactivity to psychological stressors did not vary as a function of infant feeding type while, among multiparous mothers, breastfeeding was associated with reduced responsiveness to the TSST and child-related stressor. We speculate that changes in neural mechanisms occurring as a result of pregnancy and lactation and that modulate the HPA axis in women might be exacerbated with multiple repeats of the pregnancy/lactation period. This would serve to 'desensitise' stress circuits and reduce the overall stress-induced cortisol secretion after multiple births. SN - 0953-8194 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/16774498/Multiparity_reveals_the_blunting_effect_of_breastfeeding_on_physiological_reactivity_to_psychological_stress_ DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -