B E YOND THE BARN

EQUUS - - Conversati­ons -

The re­search into the causes and treat­ment of neona­tal mal­ad­just­ment syn­drome (NMS) could reach well be­yond equine medicine. John Madigan, DVM, of the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia–Davis is work­ing with re­searchers in hu­man neona­tol­ogy and devel­op­ment to de­ter­mine the role the birth process might play in the hor­mone lev­els in new­borns.

“It’s been es­tab­lished that hu­mans have high lev­els of neu­ros­teroids at birth, but what if they don’t go down? No­body has re­ally looked into that,” says Madigan. “There’s been some work look­ing at what they call ‘kan­ga­roo care,’ where moth­ers hold new­borns that aren’t do­ing well. There have been re­mark­able sto­ries about ba­bies who were con­sid­ered nearly dead gain­ing con­scious­ness sim­ply be­cause their moth­ers held them close. What if that con­tact is do­ing some­thing sim­i­lar to our rope squeeze?”

There is also po­ten­tial rel­e­vance for autism re­search, says Madigan. He notes that re­cent re­search has shown that autis­tic chil­dren have sig­nif­i­cantly higher con­cen­tra­tions of many hor­mones, in­clud­ing those that are pre­cur­sors to the neu­roseda­tives found in foals. “Re­cently we’ve learned that two risk fac­tors for autism were in­duc­tion of la­bor and aug­mented de­liv­ery. Both of which might lead to less time in the birth canal. And Tem­ple Grandin taught us all about the benefits of squeez­ing and pres­sure on autis­tic in­di­vid­u­als. I am par­tic­u­larly ex­cited about col­lab­o­rat­ing with re­searchers in this field to see if and how all of this might be con­nected.”

“It’s been es­tab­lished that hu­mans have high lev­els of neu­ros­teroids at birth, but what if they don’t go down?”

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