Preterm birth is associated with medical problems affecting the neuroendocrine system, altering cortisol levels resulting in negative effects on newborn neurobehavior. Newborn neurobehavior is regulated by DNA methylation of NR3C1 and HSD11B2. Aim: Determine if methylation of HSD11B2 and NR3C1 is associated with neurobehavioral profiles in preterm infants. Patients & methods: Neurobehavior was measured before discharge from the hospital in 67 preterm infants. Cheek swabs were collected for DNA extraction. Results: Infants with the high-risk neurobehavioral profile showed more methylation than infants with the low-risk neurobehavioral profile at CpG3 for NR3C1 and less methylation of CpG3 for HSD11B2. Infants with these profiles were more likely to have increased methylation of NR3C1 and decreased methylation of HSD11B2 at these CpG sites. Conclusion: Preterm birth is associated with epigenetic differences in genes that regulate cortisol levels related to high-risk neurobehavioral profiles.
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