Endocrine activation mimics the adverse effects of prenatal stress on the neuromotor development of the infant primate

Dev Psychobiol. 1992 Sep;25(6):427-39. doi: 10.1002/dev.420250604.


Pregnant female rhesus monkeys were exposed to a 2-week period of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) to determine whether it would affect the early neuromotor development of their fetuses in a manner similar to that observed after psychological stressors. During the first month after birth, infants were tested on two occasions with a modification of the Brazelton Newborn Behavioral Assessment Scale. Infants derived from ACTH-treated pregnancies showed early impairments in motor coordination and muscle tonicity and shorter attention spans as compared to controls. In addition, on a temperament rating scale, infants from the ACTH condition were more irritable and difficult to console. These findings indicate that a delimited period of endocrine activation during pregnancy can have an adverse effect on infant neurobehavioral development, like that of prenatal stress.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone / adverse effects*
  • Animals
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / adverse effects
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Stress, Psychological*


  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone
  • Hydrocortisone