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Tara Posen

Biological Sciences

Tara Posen delights in the many joys of working with children. Above all, her interests lie in the discovery and exploration of new evidence concerning pregnancy and infant development. She says that one of the many highlights of her research to date has been the opportunity to work with infants. In addition to her academic interests, Tara enjoys spending time with friends, working with youth, attending church, participating in athletics, listening to music, and playing the guitar. triangle.gif (504 bytes)




Past research has shown that corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) is related to and determines the length of gestation; other studies have suggested a link between CRH and development in animals. To further investigate the relationship between CRH and development in the human fetus, the Ballard Newborn Maturity Rating, composed of a physical maturity scale and a neuromuscular maturity scale, was used to score the developmental maturity of newborns. Blood samples at 32-34 weeks of gestation were collected to find CRH levels. It was found that CRH did not have a significant relationship to the overall developmental or the physical maturity scales, but a strong, inverse relationship was observed between CRH levels and neuromuscular maturity (p = .003). This evidence strongly supports the claim that CRH plays different and separate roles in determining both length of gestation and developmental outcome of the infant. These findings will be helpful in identifying and preventing the effects of high CRH levels during pregnancy.triangle.gif (504 bytes)

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Faculty Mentor                                                                                                                
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Curt Sandman

College of Medicine

Stress has serious consequences at any stage of development, but when it occurs during pregnancy the effects initiate a cascade of pathophysiological changes that can produce in the fetus life-long impairments of cognition, motor and sensory behavior, and emotional/social attachments. Few studies have considered the effects of prenatal stress on human fetal behavior and fewer still have considered the effects of maternal stress on the continuum between the fetus and the infant. Tara’s findings are the first that indicate early human fetal experiences are reflected in the central nervous system of the neonate. Tara gained invaluable experience by participating with a team of researchers (especially Laura Glynn, Project Director) from several departments in the conduct of her study. As is the case for all undergraduates who participate in formal research programs, Tara has a much clearer idea about the career options available to her.triangle.gif (504 bytes)

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