Skin-to-skin contact after birth and the natural course of neurosteroid levels in healthy term newborns

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To determine the postnatal course of neurosteroid levels in relation to gender, mode of delivery and the extent of skin-to-skin (STS) contact during the first days of life in healthy term newborns.

STUDY DESIGN:

Prospective observational study of 39 neonates in which parents recorded total duration of STS in the first 2 days and nine neurosteroids (dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate, progesterone, pregnenolone, pregnenolone-sulfate, allopregnanolone, isopregnanolone, epipregnanolone, pregnanolone and pregnanolone-sulfate) were assayed from blood samples at birth and at 1–2 days of age.

RESULTS:

All nine neurosteroid levels declined significantly during the first 2 days of life. Gender did not significantly affect the change in neurosteroid levels. The decline in neurosteroid levels was generally more pronounced in vaginal deliveries, and there was a trend toward a larger decline with more exposure to STS.

CONCLUSION:

Ongoing studies may better characterize the role of neurosteroids and the influence of STS in more critically ill and premature neonates.

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