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MDMA and heightened cortisol: a neurohormonal perspective on the pregnancy outcomes of mothers used ‘Ecstasy’ during pregnancy

MDMA and heightened cortisol: a neurohormonal perspective on the pregnancy outcomes of mothers used ‘Ecstasy’ during pregnancy

Parrott, Andrew C., Moore, Derek G., Turner, John J. D., Goodwin, Julia, Min, Meeyoung O. and Singer, Lynn T. (2014) MDMA and heightened cortisol: a neurohormonal perspective on the pregnancy outcomes of mothers used ‘Ecstasy’ during pregnancy. Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental, 29 (1). pp. 1-7. ISSN 0885-6222 (Print), 1099-1077 (Online) (doi:https://doi.org/10.1002/hup.2342)

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Abstract

Objective:
The illicit recreational drug 3,4‐methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) or Ecstasy has strong neurohormonal effects. When taken by recreational users at dance clubs and raves, it can generate an 800% increase in the stress hormone cortisol, whereas drug‐free users show chronically raised levels of cortisol. The aim here is to critically debate this neurohormonal influence for the children of pregnant MDMA‐using mothers.

Methods:
High levels of cortisol are known to be damaging for neuropsychobiological well‐being in adult humans. MDMA can damage foetal development in laboratory animals, and the prospective Drugs and Infancy Study was established to monitor the effects of MDMA taken recreationally by pregnant women.

Results:
The Drugs and Infancy Study revealed that young mothers, who took MDMA during the first trimester of pregnancy, gave birth to babies with significant gross psychomotor retardation. These mothers would have experienced high levels of cortisol due to Ecstasy/MDMA use, and since cortisol can cross the placenta, this is likely to have also occurred in the foetus.

Conclusions:
In terms of causation, the developmental problems may reflect a combination of neurotransmitter and neurohormonal effects on the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis, with serotonergic activity being influenced by the high levels of cortisol.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Stress; MDMA; cortisol; Infants
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Faculty / Department / Research Group: Faculty of Education & Health
Faculty of Education & Health > Applied Psychology Research Group
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2018 11:57
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
Selected for GREAT 2019: None
URI: http://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/19925

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