During pregnancy, exposing the fetus to high levels of the stress hormone cortisol may improve early development of language, speech and comprehension as a child, new research suggests .
- Exposing the fetus to high levels of cortisol promotes language development in the child.
- Speech and comprehension skills are also improved.
- The researchers want to continue their work to see if there is a link with the intelligence quotient.
Diet, physical activity, hormones… Everything that happens during pregnancy obviously has consequences for the baby. This time, the researchers wanted to understand the link between fetal exposure to cortisol, the stress hormone, and speech and language skills during the first three years of a child’s life. Their results were presented at the 25th European Congress of Endocrinology being held in Istanbul, Turkey, May 13-16.
Cortisol during pregnancy can improve children’s speech
During their work, the scientists analyzed data on the cortisol levels of 1,093 women during their third trimester of pregnancy. Then, they measured the speech and language skills of these 1,093 children, when they were between 12 and 37 months old.
Results: Boys who had been exposed to high levels of cortisol managed to say more words between 12 and 37 months, while girls understood more words between 12 and 21 months. Thus, researchers believe that exposure to cortisol improves language, speech and comprehension abilities.
The impact of cortisol on intelligence quotient
“To our knowledge, this is the first study to analyze the association between maternal cortisol levels and language development in children over time.“explains Dr. Anja Fenger Dreyer, in a communicated.
In the future, scientists plan to continue their work to measure whether cortisol has a link with intelligence quotient (IQ). “Early language development in children is known to be [l’un des premiers signes] cognitive functions [qui se développeront] later in life, such as attention, memory, and learning, so we want to investigate whether prenatal cortisol exposure is also associated with IQ scores in 7-year-olds“, says Doctor Fenger Dreyer.