Prenatal depression effects on neonates

Brenda L. Lundy, Nancy Aaron Jones, Tiffany Field, Graciela Nearing, Marisabel Davalos, Paul A. Pietro, Saul Schanberg, Cynthia Kuhn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

272 Scopus citations


Sixty-three pregnant women (36 with depression symptoms) were recruited during their last trimester of pregnancy. The depressed mothers had higher cortisol and norepinephrine levels and lower dopamine levels. Their infants subsequently had higher cortisol and norepinephrine levels and lower dopamine levels at the neonatal stage. The neonates of depressed mothers also showed inferior performance on the orientation, reflex, excitability, and withdrawal clusters of the Brazelton Neonatal Behavioral Assessment. Stepwise regression analyses revealed that the depressed mothers' prenatal norepinephrine and dopamine levels significantly predicted the newborns' norepinephrine and dopamine levels and their Brazelton scores, highlighting an early biochemical influence on neonatal outcome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-129
Number of pages11
JournalInfant Behavior and Development
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Biochemical correlates
  • Maternal depression
  • Prenatal depression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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