A nationwide study on the risk of autism after prenatal stress exposure to maternal bereavement.
ABSTRACT Prenatal stress has been linked to several adverse neurobehavioral outcomes, which may share a common pathophysiology with autism. We aimed to examine whether prenatal stress exposure after maternal bereavement is associated with an increased risk of autism later in life.
We conducted a nationwide population-based cohort study of all 1492709 singletons in Denmark born from 1978 to 2003. A total of 37275 children were born to women who lost a close relative during pregnancy or up to 1 year before pregnancy. These children were included in the exposed group, and the remaining children were in the unexposed group. All children were followed up from birth until their death, migration, onset of autism, or the end of 2006. Information on autism was obtained from the Danish Psychiatric Central Register. We used Cox regression models to estimate hazard ratios in the exposed group compared with those in the unexposed group.
Maternal bereavement during the prenatal period was not associated with an increased risk of autism in the offspring. The hazard ratios did not differ by the nature of the exposure (maternal relationship to the deceased or cause of death). The hazard ratios were comparable between the 5 prenatal exposure periods under study (7-12 months before pregnancy, 0-6 months before pregnancy, first trimester, second trimester, and third trimester).
This is the first population-based cohort study to examine the effect of prenatal stress on autism in childhood. Our data do not support any strong association between prenatal stress after maternal bereavement and the risk of autism.
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ABSTRACT: Recent studies have suggested that stress in a pregnant mother may affect the future health of the unborn child negatively. An excellent proxy for health problems is the use of healthcare resources. Using nationwide data, we examined whether persons born to mothers who lost a close relative during pregnancy have more contacts to general practice. Population-based cohort study. Denmark. We included all children born in Denmark from 1973 to 2002 (N=2 032 528). Exposure of prenatal stress was defined as maternal bereavement by the death of a close relative during the antenatal period. The outcome of interest was contact with general practice between 2003 and 2009 when the participants were between 1 and 35 years of age. Poisson regression was used to assess the association between exposure and outcome. Contacts to general practitioner. Overall, persons exposed to prenatal stress had 2% more GP contacts than those not exposed, primarily due to increased utilisation of healthcare services during late adolescence and early adulthood. The exposed persons born to mothers who had lost a spouse had a higher risk (relative risk (RR) 1.12, 95% CI 1.10 to 1.14) and so did those born to mothers who had lost a close relative due to unexpected death (RR 1.06, 95% CI 1.05 to 1.06). Exposed persons had more contacts to general practice in daytime and more psychometric tests, talk therapies and C reactive protein tests than unexposed persons. Prenatal stress following maternal bereavement was associated with a slightly increased utilisation of primary healthcare, mainly due to increased healthcare needs related to mental health and infections. Understanding how stress during pregnancy influences the future health of the child is an important aspect of prenatal care. Published by the BMJ Publishing Group Limited. For permission to use (where not already granted under a licence) please go to http://group.bmj.com/group/rights-licensing/permissions.BMJ Open 01/2015; 5(1):e005657. · 2.06 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Research implicates prenatal maternal stress (PNMS) as a risk factor for neurodevelopmental disorders; however few studies report PNMS effects on autism risk in offspring. We examined, prospectively, the degree to which objective and subjective elements of PNMS explained variance in autism-like traits among offspring, and tested moderating effects of sex and PNMS timing in utero. Subjects were 89 (46F/43M) children who were in utero during the 1998 Quebec Ice Storm. Soon after the storm, mothers completed questionnaires on objective exposure and subjective distress, and completed the Autism Spectrum Screening Questionnaire (ASSQ) for their children at age 6½. ASSQ scores were higher among boys than girls. Greater objective and subjective PNMS predicted higher ASSQ independent of potential confounds. An objective-by-subjective interaction suggested that when subjective PNMS was high, objective PNMS had little effect; whereas when subjective PNMS was low, objective PNMS strongly affected ASSQ scores. A timing-by-objective stress interaction suggested objective stress significantly affected ASSQ in first-trimester exposed children, though less so with later exposure. The final regression explained 43% of variance in ASSQ scores; the main effect of sex and the sex-by-PNMS interactions were not significant. Findings may help elucidate neurodevelopmental origins of non-clinical autism-like traits from a dimensional perspective.Psychiatry Research 05/2014; · 2.68 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: A large proportion of women around the world suffer from chronic diseases including mental health diseases. In the United States alone, over 12% of women of reproductive age suffer from a chronic medical condition, especially diabetes and hypertension. Chronic diseases significantly increase the odds for poor maternal and newborn outcomes in pregnant women. A systematic review and meta-analysis of the evidence was conducted to ascertain the possible impact of preconception care for preventing and managing chronic diseases and promoting psychological health on maternal, newborn and child health outcomes. A comprehensive strategy was used to search electronic reference libraries, and both observational and clinical controlled trials were included. Cross-referencing and a separate search strategy for each preconception risk and intervention ensured wider study capture. Maternal prepregnancy diabetic care is a significant intervention that reduces the occurrence of congenital malformations by 70% (95% Confidence Interval (CI): 59-78%) and perinatal mortality by 69% (95% CI: 47-81%). Furthermore, preconception management of epilepsy and phenylketonuria are essential and can optimize maternal, fetal and neonatal outcomes if given before conception. Ideally changes in antiepileptic drug therapy should be made at least 6 months before planned conception. Interventions specifically targeting women of reproductive age suffering from a psychiatric condition show that group-counseling and interventions leading to empowerment of women have reported non-significant reduction in depression (economic skill building: Mean Difference (MD) -7.53; 95% CI: -17.24, 2.18; counseling: MD-2.92; 95% CI: -13.17, 7.33). While prevention and management of the chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension, through counseling, and other dietary and pharmacological intervention, is important, delivering solutions to prevent and respond to women's psychological health problems are urgently needed to combat this leading cause of morbidity.Reproductive Health 09/2014; 11 Suppl 3:S5. · 1.62 Impact Factor