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Maternal prenatal stress and cortisol reactivity to stressors in human infants.
Stress. 2011 Jan; 14(1):53-65.S

Abstract

Early life factors can shape the development of hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis. Maternal prenatal stress might constitute such an early environmental factor. As little is known about the relation between maternal prenatal stress and cortisol reactivity in human offspring, we performed a longitudinal study including four assessments of infant cortisol reactivity to stressful events in a non-clinical population. General and pregnancy-related feelings of stress and anxiety, as well as circadian cortisol levels, were measured in 173 mothers in the last trimester of pregnancy. Infant cortisol reactivity was measured at 5 weeks to a bathing session, at 8 weeks to a vaccination, at 5 months to a stressful mother-infant interaction (still face procedure), and at 12 months to a maternal separation (strange situation procedure). Maternal prenatal fear of bearing a handicapped child was a consistent predictor of infant cortisol reactivity. Although the effects were mild, higher fear was significantly related to higher salivary cortisol reactivity to the bathing session and to decreased cortisol reactivity to vaccination and maternal separation. Thus, pregnancy-specific anxieties predict infant cortisol reactivity in the first year of life, but the direction of the effect depends on infant age and/or the nature of the stressor. While this specific anxiety was a better predictor than stress experience or maternal cortisol concentrations, the underlying mechanisms of these associations remain unclear. Future studies should try to incorporate multiple measures of HPA-axis reactivity during development when studying the long-term consequences of maternal prenatal stress.

Authors+Show Affiliations

Department of Developmental Psychology, Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University Nijmegen, Montessorilaan 3, PO Box 9104, 6500 HE, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.No affiliation info availableNo affiliation info availableNo affiliation info availableNo affiliation info available

Pub Type(s)

Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

Language

eng

PubMed ID

20666659

Citation

Tollenaar, M S., et al. "Maternal Prenatal Stress and Cortisol Reactivity to Stressors in Human Infants." Stress (Amsterdam, Netherlands), vol. 14, no. 1, 2011, pp. 53-65.
Tollenaar MS, Beijers R, Jansen J, et al. Maternal prenatal stress and cortisol reactivity to stressors in human infants. Stress. 2011;14(1):53-65.
Tollenaar, M. S., Beijers, R., Jansen, J., Riksen-Walraven, J. M., & de Weerth, C. (2011). Maternal prenatal stress and cortisol reactivity to stressors in human infants. Stress (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 14(1), 53-65. https://doi.org/10.3109/10253890.2010.499485
Tollenaar MS, et al. Maternal Prenatal Stress and Cortisol Reactivity to Stressors in Human Infants. Stress. 2011;14(1):53-65. PubMed PMID: 20666659.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - Maternal prenatal stress and cortisol reactivity to stressors in human infants. AU - Tollenaar,M S, AU - Beijers,R, AU - Jansen,J, AU - Riksen-Walraven,J M A, AU - de Weerth,C, Y1 - 2010/07/28/ PY - 2010/7/30/entrez PY - 2010/7/30/pubmed PY - 2011/4/30/medline SP - 53 EP - 65 JF - Stress (Amsterdam, Netherlands) JO - Stress VL - 14 IS - 1 N2 - Early life factors can shape the development of hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis. Maternal prenatal stress might constitute such an early environmental factor. As little is known about the relation between maternal prenatal stress and cortisol reactivity in human offspring, we performed a longitudinal study including four assessments of infant cortisol reactivity to stressful events in a non-clinical population. General and pregnancy-related feelings of stress and anxiety, as well as circadian cortisol levels, were measured in 173 mothers in the last trimester of pregnancy. Infant cortisol reactivity was measured at 5 weeks to a bathing session, at 8 weeks to a vaccination, at 5 months to a stressful mother-infant interaction (still face procedure), and at 12 months to a maternal separation (strange situation procedure). Maternal prenatal fear of bearing a handicapped child was a consistent predictor of infant cortisol reactivity. Although the effects were mild, higher fear was significantly related to higher salivary cortisol reactivity to the bathing session and to decreased cortisol reactivity to vaccination and maternal separation. Thus, pregnancy-specific anxieties predict infant cortisol reactivity in the first year of life, but the direction of the effect depends on infant age and/or the nature of the stressor. While this specific anxiety was a better predictor than stress experience or maternal cortisol concentrations, the underlying mechanisms of these associations remain unclear. Future studies should try to incorporate multiple measures of HPA-axis reactivity during development when studying the long-term consequences of maternal prenatal stress. SN - 1607-8888 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/20666659/Maternal_prenatal_stress_and_cortisol_reactivity_to_stressors_in_human_infants_ L2 - https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.3109/10253890.2010.499485 DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -