The effect of hypertension in pregnant women on fetal maturation is an issue of considerable importance. Because of a possible role of prolactin in fetal adrenal steroidogenesis and in fetal lung maturation, we have investigated the relationship between hypertension in pregnant women and levels of prolactin and dehydroepian-drosterone sulfate in serum of newborn infants. It was found that with the mild-to-moderate form of pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH), there was little effect on prolactin levels in newborn serum. In newborns of women with severe PIH, however, serum prolactin levels were significantly greater (p < 0.01) than those in newborns of women with uncomplicated pregnancies. Conversely, umbilical serum concentrations of dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate in newborns of women with severe PIH were significantly less (p < 0.05) than those in newborns of women with uncomplicated pregnancies. These findings are supportive of the view that pituitary function and adrenocortical function of fetuses of women with PIH are different from those of fetuses of normotensive women. These findings are suggestive that PIH alters the function of the fetal pituitary and adrenal cortex.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health