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Database - Alliance francophone pour l'accouchement respecté (AFAR)

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Created on : 18 Apr 2006
Modified on : 01 Dec 2007

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Bibliographical entry (without author) :

Beta-endorphin in maternal and umbilical cord plasma at elective cesarean section and in spontaneous labor. Obstet Gynecol. 1986 Mar;67(3):384-7.

Author(s) :

Raisanen I, Paatero H, Salminen K, Laatikainen T.

Year of publication :


URL(s) :…

Résumé (français)  :

Abstract (English)  :

Concentration of beta-endorphin in relation to the mode of delivery and
anesthesia was studied in maternal and umbilical cord plasma in 30 healthy
women at term pregnancy. At elective cesarean section under epidural
anesthesia, the mean maternal beta-endorphin level rose from 9.8 +/- 2.7
pmol/L (SE) before induction to 15.5 +/- 3.7 pmol/L at the time of delivery
(P less than .02). Under general anesthesia the mean beta-endorphin level
increased more, from 14.6 +/- 7.2 to 34.4 +/- 7.8 pmol/L (P less than .02),
reaching the mean beta-endorphin value of the second stage of normal labor,
39.4 +/- 7.0 pmol/L. In the cord arterial and venous plasma, the mean
beta-endorphin value was significantly higher after spontaneous labor (40.9
+/- 11 and 40.1 +/- 9.2 pmol/L, respectively) than at elective cesarean
section under epidural (14.3 +/- 1.9 and 12.4 +/- 3.6 pmol/L, respectively)
or general anesthesia (11.9 +/- 2.2 and 13.4 +/- 2.2 pmol/L, respectively).

Thus cesarean section under general anesthesia proved to be more stressful
for the mother than that under epidural anesthesia, when beta-endorphin
release is used as the measure of stress. The mode of anesthesia did not
seem to influence the plasma beta-endorphin level in the newborn infant.
Normal delivery by vaginal route increased the release of beta-endorphin
both to the maternal and the fetoplacental circulation.

Sumário (português)  :

Comments :


[…] as far as I know, beta-endorphin has not been
measured in earlier colostrum (maybe they can’t get enough of a sample to
analyse), but it is well known to be elevated in newborn and mother
according to mode of delivery - see below. Zanardo et al show that these
elevated levels can cross into the breastmilk, indeed are probably actively
transported because in their study, colostral levels are double maternal

Beta-endorphin is a stress hormone, and its release in labour is thought to
be related to the ’stress’ of labour for mother and baby, paralleling the
other stress hormones such as adrenaline/noradrenaline as well as
corticosteroids, in fact B-E is thought to enhance corticosteroid release. Zanardo et al
comment that the elevated levels in colostrum may be "… of importance in the
postnatal development of several related biological functions of newborn
infants, including endocrine amd immune response."

Sarah J Buckley
GP/family physician, mother, author of
Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering: The wisdom and science of gentle choices in
pregnancy, birth, and parenting

Argument (français) :

Argument (English):

Argumento (português):

Keywords :

➡ c-section/caesarean ; hormones ; induction of labor ; post-term pregnancy

Author of this record :

Bernard Bel — 18 Apr 2006

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