Coping with Uncertainty: Behavioral and Developmental Perspectives

By David S. Palermo; Center for the Study of Child and Adolescent Development | Go to book overview

The sympathetic nervous system is also incompletely developed at birth. The human heart is innervated early in development. In some species beta adrenergic influence on the fetal heart is small early in gestation. Stressful conditions, however, such as hemorrhage and hypoxemia, result in a definite increase in beta adrenergic stimulation ( Heymann, 1984). Alpha adrenergic responses make a progressive contribution to vascular tone throughout fetal life. It has been suggested that the norepinephrine from the adrenal and fetal paraaortic bodies (extra adrenal chrornaffin cells) supports vascular tone until the sympathetic nervous system takes over ( Lewis, 1975). Adrenergic receptors, though functional at gestation, increase in concentration and responsiveness in early infancy ( Heymann, 1984). Recent evidence suggests that diminished norepinephrineinduced lipolysis in the first year of life is due, in part, to enhanced alpha inhibition of lipolysis in infants ( Marcus, Karpe, Bolme, Sonnenfeld, & Arner, 1987). This limitation of lipolysis may have a protective effect during early life. The cold pressor and tilt table responses of neonates resemble those of the adult ( Loggie & Van Maaen, 1972).


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