Maternal psychosocial adversity during pregnancy is associated with length of gestation and offspring size at birth: evidence from a population-based cohort study.
ABSTRACT To study in a large-scale cohort with prospective data the associations of psychosocial adversities during pregnancy with length of gestation and offspring size at birth.
We defined a priori two types of psychosocial adversity during pregnancy: life stress (perceived burdens in major areas of life) and emotional symptoms (e.g. anxiety). Measures of offspring size at birth, including body weight, body length, abdominal and head circumference, were obtained from a national medical birth registry. We included in the analyses gestational age and offspring size at birth controlled for length of gestation; the latter was calculated by gestational-age-specific z scores (ZS) reported in 10(-3). We conducted multiple regression analyses adjusted for potential confounders to estimate the association between exposures and birth outcomes (n = 78017 pregnancies).
Life stress (per score increase by 1; range, 0-18) was associated with shorter length of gestation (days; B, -0.14; 95% confidence interval (CI), -0.19, -0.10), increased offspring body weight (ZS; B, 9.14; 95% CI, 4.99, 13.28), body length (ZS; B, 6.58; 95% CI, 2.39, 10.77), abdominal circumference (ZS; B, 9.96; 95% CI, 5.77, 14.16), and head circumference (ZS; B, 6.13; 95% CI, 1.95, 10.30). Emotional symptoms were associated with shorter length of gestation (days; B, -0.04; 95% CI, -0.07, -0.004) and decreased body length (ZS; B, -4.44; 95% CI, -7.57, -1.32) only.
Life stress and emotional symptoms both predicted a shorter length of gestation, while only life stress predicted an increased offspring size at birth controlled for length of gestation; yet, the associations were rather small. The fetoplacental-maternal unit may regulate fetal growth according to the type of psychosocial adversity and even increase fetal growth in response to maternal stress in major areas of life. This potentially reflects a basic principle of intrauterine human development in response to stress.
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ABSTRACT: Many Muslim women worldwide are pregnant during Ramadan and adhere to Ramadan fasting during pregnancy. In the present study, we determined whether maternal adherence to Ramadan fasting during pregnancy has an impact on the birth weight of the newborn, and whether the effects differed according to trimester in which Ramadan fasting took place. A prospective cohort study was conducted in 130 pregnant Muslim women who attended antenatal care in Amsterdam and Zaanstad, The Netherlands. Data on adherence to Ramadan fasting during pregnancy and demographics were self-reported by pregnant women, and the outcome of the newborn was retrieved from medical records after delivery. The results showed that half of all the women adhered to Ramadan fasting. With strict adherence to Ramadan fasting in pregnancy, the birth weight of newborns tended to be lower than that of newborns of non-fasting mothers, although this was not statistically significant ( - 198 g, 95 % CI - 447, 51, P= 0·12). Children of mothers who fasted in the first trimester of pregnancy were lighter at birth than those whose mothers had not fasted ( - 272 g, 95 % CI - 547, 3, P= 0·05). There were no differences in birth weight between children whose mothers had or had not fasted if Ramadan fasting had taken place later in pregnancy. Ramadan fasting during early pregnancy may lead to lower birth weight of newborns. These findings call for further confirmation in larger studies that should also investigate potential implications for perinatal and long-term morbidity and mortality.British Journal Of Nutrition 09/2014; · 3.34 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: In a prospective longitudinal study, we investigated the outcomes of children born to mothers clinically referred for mental health problems during pregnancy (risk group, n = 17) relative to a control group (n = 31). Child cognitive functioning, and for subgroups (n = 10 + 17), brain morphometry as derived from Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), was measured at 4½ years. Cognitive data included abstract visuospatial reasoning/problem solving and verbal scores. Subcortical regions of interest included the amygdala, accumbens area, hippocampus, caudate and putamen, chosen because their development seems potentially sensitive to an adverse intrauterine milieu and environmental experiences, and also due to their implication in cognitive and emotional processes. The risk group exhibited poorer abstract reasoning scores than the control group. No differences were found for verbal scores. MRI revealed smaller putamen volume in children in the risk group. Irrespective of group, putamen volume was positively related to visuospatial reasoning performance. Our results suggest that maternal psychopathology may be associated with child putamen development, nonverbal reasoning and problem solving skills.European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 10/2014; 24(1). · 3.55 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: In infants exposed to maternal stress in utero, phenotypic plasticity through epigenetic events may mechanistically explain increased risk of preterm birth (PTB), which confers increased risk for neurodevelopmental disorders, cardiovascular disease, and cancers in adulthood. We examined associations between prenatal maternal stress and PTB, evaluating the role of DNA methylation at imprint regulatory regions. We enrolled women from prenatal clinics in Durham, NC. Stress was measured in 537 women at 12 weeks of gestation using the Perceived Stress Scale. DNA methylation at differentially methylated regions (DMRs) associated with H19, IGF2, MEG3, MEST, SGCE/PEG10, PEG3, NNAT, and PLAGL1 was measured from peripheral and cord blood using bisulfite pyrosequencing in a sub-sample of 79 mother-infant pairs. We examined associations between PTB and stress and evaluated differences in DNA methylation at each DMR by stress. Maternal stress was not associated with PTB (OR = 0.98; 95% CI, 0.40-2.40; P = 0.96), after adjustment for maternal body mass index (BMI), income, and raised blood pressure. However, elevated stress was associated with higher infant DNA methylation at the MEST DMR (2.8% difference, P < 0.01) after adjusting for PTB. Maternal stress may be associated with epigenetic changes at MEST, a gene relevant to maternal care and obesity. Reduced prenatal stress may support the epigenomic profile of a healthy infant.Genetics & Epigenetics 09/2014; 6:37-44.