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Lower levels of prepulse inhibition of startle response in pregnant women compared to postpartum women
Department of Women's and Children's Health, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden.
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Clinical Sciences, Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
Dominick P. Purpura Department of Neuroscience, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, USA.
Department of Women's and Children's Health, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden.
2008 (English)In: Psychoneuroendocrinology, ISSN 0306-4530, E-ISSN 1873-3360, Vol. 33, no 1, 100-107 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

OBJECTIVE: During the postpartum period, estradiol and progesterone levels decline from very high levels during late pregnancy to low levels within 48h of parturition. This period is associated with dysphoric states such as the postpartum blues. Animal studies have suggested an enhanced acoustic startle response and deficient prepulse inhibition (PPI) of startle response following progesterone withdrawal and during the postpartum period. The aim of the current study was to compare acoustic startle response and PPI in healthy third trimester pregnant women and healthy postpartum women. METHODS: Twenty-eight healthy pregnant and 21 healthy postpartum women (examined between 48h and 1 week after delivery) were recruited for the study. In addition, to evaluate the time-course of postpartum changes 11 early postpartum women (examined within 48h following delivery) were included in the study. The eyeblink component of the acoustic startle reflex was assessed using electromyographic measurements of m. Orbicularis Oculi. Twenty pulse-alone trials (115dB 40ms broad-band white noise) and 40 prepulse-pulse trials were presented. The prepulse stimuli consisted of a 115dB 40ms noise burst preceded at a 100ms interval by 20ms prepulses that were 72, 74, 78 or 86dB. RESULTS: Pregnant women exhibited lower levels of PPI compared to late postpartum women, p<0.05. There was no difference between pregnant women and postpartum women examined within 48h of delivery. There was no difference in startle response or habituation to startle response between pregnant women and either of the two groups of postpartum women. CONCLUSION: Healthy women display lower levels of PPI during late pregnancy when estradiol and progesterone levels are high compared to the late postpartum period when ovarian steroid levels have declined.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2008. Vol. 33, no 1, 100-107 p.
Keyword [en]
Prepulse inhibition; Startle response; Pregnancy; Postpartum; Estradiol; Progesterone
National Category
Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Medicine
Research subject
Obstetrics and Gynaecology
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-36819DOI: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2007.10.005PubMedID: 18037247OAI: diva2:356429
Available from: 2010-10-12 Created: 2010-10-12 Last updated: 2011-04-12Bibliographically approved

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