Effects of mothers’ prenatal psychiatric status and postnatal caregiving on infant biobehavioral regulation: Can prenatal programming be modified?

Department of Psychology, Columbia University, 1190 Amsterdam Ave MC 5501, New York, NY 10027, USA.
Early Human Development (Impact Factor: 1.79). 05/2008; 84(4):249-56. DOI: 10.1016/j.earlhumdev.2007.06.004
Source: PubMed


Animal research suggests that antenatal stress exposure and postnatal rearing style act in concert to shape offspring biobehavioral outcomes. However, the combination of these maternally-mediated influences has not been studied in human infants.
To examine antenatal psychiatric status and maternal sensitivity in relation to 4-month-olds' autonomic regulation, HPA-axis functioning, and behavior.
Prospective study of 47 pregnant women recruited from an urban hospital who completed questionnaire measures of anxiety and depression and underwent a psychiatric interview in the 2nd trimester. At 4 months postpartum, women again completed mood questionnaires and the mother-infant dyads participated in a 10-minute free-play session evaluated for maternal sensitivity.
Baseline infant salivary cortisol and electrocardiogram (EKG) collected at the start of the 4-month sessions. Infant responsiveness and maternal report of temperament also were evaluated.
Maternal sensitivity, but not antenatal psychiatric diagnosis, predicted greater levels of infant high frequency heart rate variability, after controlling for birth weight and age. Maternal sensitivity, but not psychiatric status, also predicted infant responsiveness. Maternal sensitivity modulated the effects of psychiatric illness on infant cortisol such that cortisol was low regardless of sensitivity for children of healthy women yet higher if the infant had insensitive versus sensitive caregiving when the mother had had an antenatal diagnosis.
Biobehavioral adaptation, even that initiated in utero, is influenced by interactions with the social world. These findings support the compatibility of fetal programming and social-context models of infant biobehavioral development and have promising implications for pre and postnatal clinical intervention.

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Available from: Catherine Monk, May 18, 2015
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    • "Dal punto di vista clinico la flessibilità dello strumento lo rende adattabile a pressoché qualsiasi situazione, rendendo più agevole la valutazione dello sviluppo affettivo relazionale del bambino nell'interazione con le figure di riferimento (Biringen et al., 2014). Fino ad ora lo strumento è stato impiegato in numerosi gruppi clinici e valutato in relazione alla psicopatologia dell'adulto (De Palo, Simonelli, Capra, & Porreca, 2014; Fonseca, Silva, & Otta, 2010; Kaplan et al., 2008; Porreca, Simonelli, De Palo, & Capra, 2014; Swanson et al., 2000; Trapolini, Ungerer, & McMahon, 2008; Trupe, 2010; Vliegen, Luyten, & Biringen, 2009) o a quella del bambino (Atzaba-Poria et al., 2010; Gueron-Sela, Atzaba-Poria, Meiri, & Yerushalmi, 2011; Wiefel et al., 2005). Il fatto che si tratti di una procedura non particolarmente stressante aggira inoltre il rischio che il compito richiesto vada a penalizzare la performance del soggetto, come invece accade per altre procedure sperimentali. "

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    • "Several studies propose that these alterations in the hypothalamic– pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis (Gitau et al., 1998; Kaplan et al., 2008; O'Donnell et al., 2009) and alterations in placental enzymes (Gluckman et al., 1999) caused by environmental stress may affect the neurodevelopment of the foetus (Coe et al., 2003) and have significant later effects on the child (Talge et al., 2007) Walker and Diforio's (1997) neural diathesis stress model of schizophrenia incorporates prenatal factors and the augmentation of dopamine and dopamine receptor synthesis by the HPA axis (Walker and Diforio, 1997). Longitudinal studies are required to examine effects of prenatal stressors on risk of schizophrenia whilst minimizing recall bias, but are rarely feasible given the incidence of this disorder. "
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    Schizophrenia Research 12/2013; 152(1). DOI:10.1016/j.schres.2013.11.006 · 3.92 Impact Factor
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