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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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    ABSTRACT: Background International studies indicate that the median prevalence of psychotic experiences in children is 7%. It has been proposed that environmental stress during pregnancy may affect the neurodevelopment of the foetus and lead to a vulnerability in the child to later stressors and psychopathology. Aim In this study we explore the relationship between environmental stress during pregnancy and psychotic experiences in children in the general population at 12 years. Methods We analysed a birth cohort of 5038 children from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. Environmental stress was measured as life event exposure. Data on life events were collected on women during their pregnancy, whilst psychotic experiences in the offspring were assessed at age 12. Results There was a weak association between maternal exposure to life events and psychotic experiences at twelve years (crude OR 1.10 95% CI 1.02–1.18) per quartile of life event score. This association was not reduced after adjustment for socio-economic status, family history of schizophrenia, maternal education or birth weight but after adjustment for maternal anxiety and depression and smoking in early pregnancy there was no longer any evidence for an association (OR 1.01 95% CI 0.93–1.10). Conclusion This study provides some evidence to suggest that stressful life events may affect child psychotic experiences through effects on maternal psychopathology, and possibly physiology, during pregnancy.
    Schizophrenia Research 12/2013; 152(1). DOI:10.1016/j.schres.2013.11.006 · 3.92 Impact Factor
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    • "Evidence shows that deficit or atypical parenting behaviour mediate the effects of maternal depression on adverse child outcomes [20] [23]. A recent study found that adequate stroking by the mother may mediate the impact of perinatal depression on the child [24] [25]. "
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    ABSTRACT: In this chapter, we briefly describe several modes of parent-infant-psychotherapy, an efficient way of treating parent-infant relationship disorders. We then focus on treatment for postnatally depressed mothers. Perinatal depression defines an episode of major or minor depression occurring during pregnancy or the first 12 months after birth. Attachment-based parent-infant interventions are particularly helpful in the context of maternal perinatal depression, as postpartum depression has a special link with unresolved trauma and losses in the mother's childhood. The goal of treatment is to improve the mother's mood but also to prevent or reduce the effects of postpartum depression on the child. Infants of perinatally depressed mothers are at risk for a large array of negative outcomes, including attachment insecurity (particularly disorganised attachment), social-skills deficits, cognitive difficulties, behaviour problems, and later psychopathology. The 'ghosts in the nursery' concept refers to the painful or disturbed early childhood experiences coming from the mother's past, which haunt the present mother-infant relationship. By addressing the mother's unresolved attachment conflicts (in her relationship to her own parents), it is believed that the development of a more adaptive parenting and a more secure and less disorganised attachment between the mother and her infant is facilitated. Changes in parent- infant interaction are not dependent on the port of entry (e.g. child's behaviour, parent's representation or parent-infant relationship). The perspective of attachment is key to install a therapeutic alliance with parents.
    Best practice & research. Clinical obstetrics & gynaecology 08/2013; 28(1). DOI:10.1016/j.bpobgyn.2013.08.011 · 1.92 Impact Factor
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