Maternal depression and cortisol in pregnancy predict offspring emotional reactivity in the preschool period

Danielle A. Swales, Dominika A. Winiarski, Alicia K. Smith, Zachary N. Stowe, Donald J Newport, Patricia A. Brennan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Prenatal exposures to higher levels of maternal cortisol and depression have been linked to a variety of adverse physiological, neurological, and behavioral outcomes, such as dysregulated cortisol production, structural and functional differences in limbic areas of the brain, and greater negative emotionality. This study investigated prospective associations between maternal prepartum depression/cortisol levels and offspring emotional reactivity in 163 mother-child pairs. Women were assessed repeatedly during pregnancy, and later participated in a laboratory visit with their preschool-aged children. Mothers self-reported on depressive symptomatology during pregnancy and provided saliva samples for cortisol assay. Offspring emotional reactivity was assessed through multiple measures, including caregiver reports, cortisol response following a stressor, and laboratory observations of behavior. The findings suggest potential prenatal timing effects, with depression and maternal cortisol measured in the first and second trimesters being more strongly associated with child emotional reactivity. Sex was found to moderate associations between maternal prepartum depression/cortisol and child emotional reactivity, with the general pattern reflecting positive associations in girls, and negative associations in boys.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalDevelopmental Psychobiology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018

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Hydrocortisone
Mothers
Depression
Pregnancy
Second Pregnancy Trimester
Preschool Children
First Pregnancy Trimester
Saliva
Caregivers
Prospective Studies
Brain

Keywords

  • Cortisol
  • Depression
  • Emotional reactivity
  • Human
  • Pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Developmental Biology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

Cite this

Maternal depression and cortisol in pregnancy predict offspring emotional reactivity in the preschool period. / Swales, Danielle A.; Winiarski, Dominika A.; Smith, Alicia K.; Stowe, Zachary N.; Newport, Donald J; Brennan, Patricia A.

In: Developmental Psychobiology, 01.01.2018.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Swales, Danielle A. ; Winiarski, Dominika A. ; Smith, Alicia K. ; Stowe, Zachary N. ; Newport, Donald J ; Brennan, Patricia A. / Maternal depression and cortisol in pregnancy predict offspring emotional reactivity in the preschool period. In: Developmental Psychobiology. 2018.
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