Prenatal maternal biochemistry predicts neonatal biochemistry

Tiffany Field, Miguel Diego, Maria Hernandez-Reif, Yanexy Vera, Karla Gil, Saul Schanberg, Cynthia Kuhn, Adolfo Gonzalez-Garcia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


Depressed (n = 45) and nondepressed (n = 47) mothers were recruited prenatally at an ultrasound clinic. Their urine samples were assayed for cortisol, catecholamines (norepinephrine, epinephrine, dopamine) and serotonin. Their urines were assayed again at the neonatal period, and their newborns' urines were also assayed at that time. The depressed versus the nondepressed mothers showed significantly higher cortisol and norepinephrine and significantly lower dopamine levels across the pre- and postnatal assessments. At the postnatal assessment all levels had decreased except the serotonin levels for both groups. Regression analyses on the mother's postnatal biochemistry with the prenatal biochemistry entered as predictor variables showed highly significant, specific relationships between each of the catecholamines, cortisol, and serotonin. The newborn's biochemistry (except for epinephrine) was higher than the maternal biochemistry. Regression analyses on the neonatal biochemistry with the mother's prenatal biochemistry entered as predictor variables also suggested highly significant, specific relationships. The continuity between the mother's and the newborn's neurotransmitter/neurohormone profiles and data showing that elevated norepinephrine and cortisol predict to low birthweight and prematurity, respectively, highlight the importance of assessing these levels during pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)933-945
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Neuroscience
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2004


  • Catecholamines
  • Cortisol
  • Maternal biochemistry
  • Maternal depression
  • Neonatal depression
  • Prenatal depression
  • Serotonin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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