Glucocorticoids are lower at delivery in maternal, but not cord blood of obese pregnancies

Laura I Stirrat, George Just, Natalie Z M Homer, Ruth Andrew, Jane E Norman, Rebecca M Reynolds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Glucocorticoids are vital for lung maturation. We previously showed that cortisol is lower in obese pregnancy. Whether this is maintained at delivery is unknown but is clinically relevant as maternal and cord blood cortisol levels are correlated and offspring of obese are more likely to need neonatal respiratory support. We hypothesized that glucocorticoids are lower in maternal and cord blood at delivery in obese pregnancies. Glucocorticoids (cortisol and corticosterone) and their inactive versions (cortisone and 11-dehydrocorticosterone) were measured by LC-MS/MS in maternal and cord plasma from 259 Caucasian women at delivery (BMI 18-55 kg/m2). Analyses adjusted for labour status, delivery mode, offspring gender, birthweight and gestational age. Cortisol and corticosterone were significantly higher in maternal than cord blood. Inactive versions were significantly higher in cord than maternal blood. Increased maternal BMI associated with lower maternal cortisol, corticosterone and 11-dehydrocorticosterone. Despite significant positive correlations between maternal and cord blood glucocorticoid levels, increased maternal BMI was not associated with lower cord blood glucocorticoid levels. Conditions at delivery may overcome any potential negative effects of low maternal glucocorticoids on the fetus in the short-term. This may not preclude the longer-term effects of fetal exposure to lower glucocorticoid levels during obese pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10263
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2017


  • Adult
  • Biomarkers
  • Delivery, Obstetric
  • Female
  • Fetal Blood
  • Gestational Age
  • Glucocorticoids/blood
  • Humans
  • Obesity/blood
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications/blood


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