Maternal prenatal anxiety, postnatal caregiving and infants' cortisol responses to the still-face procedure.Dev Psychobiol. 2009 Dec; 51(8):625-37.DP
This study prospectively examined the separate and combined influences of maternal prenatal anxiety disorder and postnatal caregiving sensitivity on infants' salivary cortisol responses to the still-face procedure. Effects were assessed by measuring infant salivary cortisol upon arrival at the laboratory, and at 15-, 25-, and 40-min following the still-face procedure. Maternal symptoms of anxiety during the last 6 months of pregnancy were assessed using clinical diagnostic interview. Data analyses using linear mixed models were based on 88 women and their 7-month-old infants. Prenatal anxiety and maternal sensitivity emerged as independent, additive moderators of infant cortisol reactivity, F (3, 180) = 3.29, p = .02, F (3, 179) = 2.68, p = .05 respectively. Results were independent of maternal prenatal depression symptoms, and postnatal symptoms of anxiety and depression. Infants' stress-induced cortisol secretion patterns appear to relate not only to exposure to maternal prenatal anxiety, but also to maternal caregiving sensitivity, irrespective of prenatal psychological state.