Prenatal dopamine and neonatal behavior and biochemistry

Tiffany Field, Miguel Diego, Maria Hernandez-Reif, Barbara Figueiredo, Osvelia Deeds, Angela Ascencio, Saul Schanberg, Cynthia Kuhn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Depressed pregnant women (N = 126) were divided into high and low prenatal maternal dopamine (HVA) groups based on a tertile split on their dopamine levels at 20 weeks gestation. The high versus the low dopamine group had lower Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression Scale (CES-D) scores, higher norepinephrine levels at the 20-week gestational age visit and higher dopamine and serotonin levels at both the 20- and the 32-week gestational age visits. The neonates of the mothers with high versus low prenatal dopamine levels also had higher dopamine and serotonin levels as well as lower cortisol levels. Finally, the neonates in the high dopamine group had better autonomic stability and excitability scores on the Brazelton Neonatal Behavior Assessment Scale. Thus, prenatal maternal dopamine levels appear to be negatively related to prenatal depression scores and positively related to neonatal dopamine and behavioral regulation, although these effects are confounded by elevated serotonin levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)590-593
Number of pages4
JournalInfant Behavior and Development
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2008


  • Depression
  • Prenatal dopamine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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