ArticleLiterature Review

Annual Research Review: Prenatal stress and the origins of psychopathology: an evolutionary perspective

Authors:
To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the author.

Abstract

If a mother is stressed or anxious while pregnant her child is more likely to show a range of symptoms such as those of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, conduct disorder, aggression or anxiety. While there remains some debate about what proportion of these effects are due to the prenatal or the postnatal environment, and the role of genetics, there is good evidence that prenatal stress exposure can increase the risk for later psychopathology. Why should this be? In our evolutionary history it is possible that some increase in these characteristics in some individuals was adaptive in a stressful environment, and that this type of fetal programming prepared the child or group for the environment in which they were going to find themselves. Anxiety may have been associated with increased vigilance, distractible attention with more perception of danger, impulsivity with more exploration, conduct disorder with a willingness to break rules, and aggression with the ability to fight intruders or predators. This adaptation for a future dangerous environment may explain why stress and anxiety, rather than depression, seem to have these programming effects; why there is a dose-response relationship with prenatal stress from moderate to severe and it is not only toxic stress that has consequences; why not all children are affected and why individual children are affected in different ways; and why the outcomes affected can depend on the sex of the offspring. An evolutionary perspective may give a different understanding of children in our society with these symptoms, and suggest new directions for research. For example, there is some evidence that the type of cognitive deficits observed after prenatal stress have specific characteristics; these may be those which were adaptive in a past environment.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the author.

... Fetal programming is the adaptive process by which maternal cues about the environment impact on fetal development in utero, to improve offspring fitness for the postnatal environment [1]. Although this theory was first proposed to account for associations between low birthweight and later obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes [2], it has been applied to explain the well-replicated finding that maternal prenatal psychological stress increases risk for poor offspring outcomes [3,4]. The prevailing mechanistic theory to account for mood-associated effects on offspring outcomes is via changes in the maternal and fetal hypothalamic-pituitary adrenal (HPA) axes [3,4]. ...
... Although this theory was first proposed to account for associations between low birthweight and later obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes [2], it has been applied to explain the well-replicated finding that maternal prenatal psychological stress increases risk for poor offspring outcomes [3,4]. The prevailing mechanistic theory to account for mood-associated effects on offspring outcomes is via changes in the maternal and fetal hypothalamic-pituitary adrenal (HPA) axes [3,4]. Low-mood associated increases in maternal glucocorticoids are actively transferred to the fetal blood circulation [5], which perturb the development of the fetal HPA axis [6][7][8]. ...
... Although we did not directly measure breastmilk cortisol, we used a dichotomous measure of breastfeeding in an attempt to index breastmilk cortisol exposure. Our findings are also consistent with a wealth of emerging research from the prenatal period, which suggests that females are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of maternal stress and depression during pregnancy [3,4,8,[10][11][12]. The theory is that elevated levels of maternal cortisol cross the placental barrier, and in response the size and connectivity of the amygdala is altered in females [13][14][15], which increases risk for later emotional dysregulation and affective outcomes. ...
Article
Full-text available
Background There is good evidence that female infants are particularly vulnerable to poor emotional outcomes following in utero glucocorticoid exposure. It is currently unclear whether such effects might persist into the postnatal period for breastfed infants, as maternal cortisol is expressed in breastmilk and is influenced by maternal psychological distress. We pre-registered hypotheses that maternal postnatal depression would be associated with infant negative emotionality, and that this effect would be moderated by breastfeeding status and infant sex. Methods We analysed data from the Wirral Child Health and Development Study (WCHADS), a prospective epidemiological study starting in pregnancy. Nine weeks after birth mothers self-reported depressive symptoms and breastfeeding status, and reported infant negative emotionality using the distress to limits subscale of the infant behaviour questionnaire (IBQ-R) when their infant was aged 9 weeks and 14 months. Maximum likelihood estimations made use of data from 857 mother-infant pairs. Results At 9 weeks of age, maternal postnatal depressive symptoms were positively associated with infant distress to limits; however, this effect was not moderated by infant sex or breastfeeding. At age 14 months, the association between postnatal depression symptoms and distress to limits was greatest in the breastfed females, whereas the association was smaller, but still significant, in the non-breastfed females. For males, the association was non-significant in both the breastfed and non-breastfed groups. A test of sex difference between breastfed males and females was significant. Conclusions We provide evidence that effects of maternal postnatal depression on child emotional outcomes are moderated by breastfeeding status and differ by infant sex. Female vulnerability to elevated maternal breastmilk glucocorticoids may, at least in part, explain these effects.
... Conception to two years postpartum (the first 1000 days) is a transitional period during which an estimated 30% (Glover, 2011) and 15-20% National Mental Health Division HSE, 2017) of women experience stress and anxiety, respectively. Stress and anxiety are distinct yet highly related psychological constructs (Glover, 2011) associated with adverse obstetric, maternal and child outcomes, including higher risk of maternal depression (Norhayati et al., 2015), lower maternal-child attachment and responsivity (Respler-Herman et al., 2012), risk of preterm birth (Lobel et al., 2008), low birth weight (Witt et al., 2014), child health and developmental outcomes (Ingstrup et al., 2012;King & Laplante, 2005). ...
... Conception to two years postpartum (the first 1000 days) is a transitional period during which an estimated 30% (Glover, 2011) and 15-20% National Mental Health Division HSE, 2017) of women experience stress and anxiety, respectively. Stress and anxiety are distinct yet highly related psychological constructs (Glover, 2011) associated with adverse obstetric, maternal and child outcomes, including higher risk of maternal depression (Norhayati et al., 2015), lower maternal-child attachment and responsivity (Respler-Herman et al., 2012), risk of preterm birth (Lobel et al., 2008), low birth weight (Witt et al., 2014), child health and developmental outcomes (Ingstrup et al., 2012;King & Laplante, 2005). Stress and anxiety during the first 1000 days arise from social, psychological, and sociodemographic factors (Bayrampour et al., 2018;Dunkel Schetter, 2011;Raikes & Thompson, 2005). ...
... Similarly, where reviews examined both stress and anxiety, there was a greater focus on effects of interventions on anxiety than stress. Although anxiety and stress are also highly associated, they are distinct constructs with potentially differential mechanisms of effect on maternal and child outcomes (Glover, 2011). As perinatal distress is a complex and multifaceted construct (Wadephul et al., 2020), future trials of interventions should incorporate a broad range of outcomes, including stress and anxiety (Alderdice et al., 2013). ...
Article
Full-text available
Objective Effective interventions are needed to mitigate effects of stress and anxiety from conception and up to two years postpartum (the first 1000 days), but it is unclear what works, for what populations and at what time points. This review aimed to synthesise evidence from existing reviews of the effects of stress and anxiety interventions. Methods A systematic review of systematic reviews was conducted. PsycINFO, CINAHL, MEDLINE and the Cochrane databases were searched (inception to January 2020). Reviews were eligible if they examined effects of interventions during the first 1000 days on women’s stress and/or anxiety. Extracted data were narratively synthesised. Review quality was assessed using existing recommendations including the AMSTAR tool . Results Thirty-four reviews were eligible for inclusion; 21 demonstrated high methodological quality. Cognitive behavioural therapy demonstrates some beneficial effects for anxiety across the first 1000 days for general and at-risk populations. Support-based interventions demonstrate effects for stress and anxiety for at-risk mothers in the postpartum. Music, yoga and relaxation demonstrate some effects for stress and anxiety, but studies are limited by high risk of bias. Conclusion Existing evidence is inconsistent. Cognitive behavioural therapy and support-based interventions demonstrate some benefits. Further methodologically and conceptually robust research is needed.
... According to the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD) hypothesis, mothers who experience stress during pregnancy, including socioeconomic (SES) risk and intimate partner violence (IPV), have children who are at increased risk for socioemotional and behavioral difficulties, such as internalizing and externalizing problems. [1][2][3][4][5] Following bioecological models of health and development, 6 such experiences of stress and trauma occur across contexts, ranging from more proximal (e.g., an individual's direct experience of stress, such as trauma or IPV) to more intermediate stressors (e.g., the effects of SES as a stressor on the family as a whole) to more distal (e.g., living in a high crime neighborhood), yet these multiple contexts are often not examined simultaneously. Experiences across these multiple levels of influence have the potential to impact not only the pregnant mother's wellbeing but may also have intergenerational effects for their offspring. ...
... We found that maternal childhood trauma exposure, prenatal SES risk, and intimate partner violence during pregnancy were all uniquely associated with young children's socioemotional-behavioral problems, after covariate adjustment, within a diverse urban southern sampleadvancing evidence from extant prenatal programming research. 1,21 To our knowledge, this is one of the first studies to include communitylevel stressors (neighborhood violent crime) when assessing the intergenerational association of maternal stress and adversity on child development. When directly comparing the four predictors in our full model, maternal SES risk had the strongest association with child problems, followed by pregnancy IPV and maternal CTE. ...
Article
Maternal adversity and prenatal stress confer risk for child behavioral health problems. Few studies have examined this intergenerational process across multiple dimensions of stress; fewer have explored potential protective factors. Using a large, diverse sample of mother–child dyads, we examined associations between maternal childhood trauma, prenatal stressors, and offspring socioemotional-behavioral development, while also examining potential resilience-promoting factors. The Conditions Affecting Neurocognitive Development and Learning and Early Childhood (CANDLE) study prospectively followed 1503 mother–child dyads (65% Black, 32% White) from pregnancy. Exposures included maternal childhood trauma, socioeconomic risk, intimate partner violence, and geocode-linked neighborhood violent crime during pregnancy. Child socioemotional-behavioral functioning was measured via the Brief Infant Toddler Social Emotional Assessment (mean age = 1.1 years). Maternal social support and parenting knowledge during pregnancy were tested as potential moderators. Multiple linear regressions ( N = 1127) revealed that maternal childhood trauma, socioeconomic risk, and intimate partner violence were independently, positively associated with child socioemotional-behavioral problems at age one in fully adjusted models. Maternal parenting knowledge moderated associations between both maternal childhood trauma and prenatal socioeconomic risk on child problems: greater knowledge was protective against the effects of socioeconomic risk and was promotive in the context of low maternal history of childhood trauma. Findings indicate that multiple dimensions of maternal stress and adversity are independently associated with child socioemotional-behavioral problems. Further, modifiable environmental factors, including knowledge regarding child development, can mitigate these risks. Both findings support the importance of parental screening and early intervention to promote child socioemotional-behavioral health.
... However, in this cross-sectional study, the temporal succession of ADHD symptoms of the child and mother's HCC remained unclear. In principle, it is possible that maternal HCC precedes ADHD symptom development, e.g., due to fetal programming effects if mother´s cortisol levels had already been high in pregnancy (Glover 2011), or due to inadequate parenting caused, e.g., by parenting stress (Fuchs et al. 2021). Alternatively, the ADHD symptoms of the child might predict increasing maternal HCC due to caregiving burden. ...
... In principle, therefore,it is possible that the mothers had suffered from increased HCC (and stress) over alonger period, even in pregnancy. Maternal stress in pregnancy may have causeddeviations in the child's brain development (Glover 2011), leading to ADHD symptomsin preschool years. Future studies on the issue should start already in pregnancy toclarify the issue. ...
Article
Full-text available
Parents of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have shown high perceived parenting stress. Hence, physiological adjustment processes, involving the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis, seem possible. We hypothesized that (1) ADHD symptoms of the child predict an increase of maternal hair cortisol concentration (HCC), and (2) presence of psychosocial adversity amplifies the prediction. We analyzed a preschool-aged sample using a longitudinal design (T1, at the children’s age of 4 years; T2, 12 months later). 128 mothers and their children participated in the study. To determine HCC of the previous 3 months, the first scalp-near 3 cm hair segment was used. ADHD symptoms of the child were measured using teacher- and parent-report questionnaires and a clinical interview with the mother. The T1 teacher-reported ADHD symptoms score of the child was significantly positively associated with the mother`s T1 and T2 HCC score. In families with high psychosocial adversity, the prediction of an increase in maternal HCC by the teacher-reported ADHD symptoms of child was significantly stronger than in low-adversity families. In presence of psychosocial family adversity, ADHD symptoms of the child predicted an increase in the mother's HCC. As a continuously high cortisol level implicates health risks and might in turn affect parenting resources, the identifying of caregivers at risk through biological markers of stress could be helpful for planning targeted interventions. As our study is the first on this issue, cross-validation is needed.
... [10][11][12][13][14][15] Additionally, PREMS is associated with children's long-term development. [16][17][18] Child outcomes linked to PREMS include neurological, 19 physical, and physiological changes, [20][21][22] and increased risk for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, conduct disorder, [23][24][25][26] and cognitive and linguistic impairments. 27,28 Although many studies on PREMS and neurodevelopment have focused on children, few have looked at young infants. ...
... NNS may serve as a quantifiable marker of PREMS in neonates, allowing for the earlier detection of risk for PREMS-related complications, including impairments on children's health and neuropsychological function. [16][17][18][19][20][21][22][23][24][25][26][27][28]68 NNS is an important early measure because it has been used as an index of newborns' brain integrity 37,69,70 and has been linked to later neurobehavioral functions (e.g., motor skills, balance, intelligence, and language). 37,38 Overall findings from the current study suggest that when the mother is stressed during pregnancy her infant's NNS is characterized by fewer bursting attempts on the pacifier but when bursts were attempted, the activity occurred for a longer duration of time. ...
Article
This study examined the relationship between prenatal maternal stress (PREMS) and non-nutritive suck (NNS) and tested its robustness across 2 demographically diverse populations. The study involved 2 prospective birth cohorts participating in the national Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) Program: Illinois Kids Development Study (IKIDS) and ECHO Puerto Rico (ECHO-PROTECT). PREMS was measured during late pregnancy via the 10-item Perceived Stress Scale (PSS-10). NNS was sampled from 1- to 8-week-olds using a custom pacifier for ~5 min. Overall, 237 mother–infant dyads completed this study. Despite several significant differences, including race/ethnicity, income, education, and PREMS levels, significant PREMS-NNS associations were found in the 2 cohorts. In adjusted linear regression models, higher PREMS, measured through PSS-10 total scores, related to fewer but longer NNS bursts per minute. A significant association was observed between PREMS and NNS across two diverse cohorts. This finding is important as it may enable the earlier detection of exposure-related deficits and, as a result, earlier intervention, which potentially can optimize outcomes. More research is needed to understand how NNS affects children’s neurofunction and development. In this double-cohort study, we found that higher maternal perceived stress assessed in late pregnancy was significantly associated with fewer but longer sucking bursts in 1- to 8-week-old infants. This is the first study investigating the association between prenatal maternal stress (PREMS) and infant non-nutritive suck (NNS), an early indicator of central nervous system integrity. Non-nutritive suck is a potential marker of increased prenatal stress in diverse populations. Non-nutritive suck can potentially serve as an early indicator of exposure-related neuropsychological deficits allowing for earlier interventions and thus better prognoses.
... The genetic pathway suggests that children inherit a vulnerability to anxiety from their mother, and epigenetic processes are also likely to be involved (Glover et al., 2016). The early life programming model posits that overexposure to elevated maternal stress hormones (glucocorticoids) during pregnancy prompts changes in a developing infant's capacity for stress regulation and executive functioning (Barker et al., 2011;Glover, 2011;O'Donnell et al., 2009). Possible physiological mechanisms include the effect of circulating maternal glucocorticoids on the developing fetal HPA axis, impaired functioning of the placenta, and changes in the immunological milieu and nutritional blood supply (Egliston et al., 2007;O'Donnell et al., 2009;Van den Bergh et al., 2017). ...
... Thus, our findings partly support our hypotheses and are to some extent consistent with previous research. The associations between maternal prenatal mood problems and children's lower involvement and responsiveness during an interactive stress situation are in line with several studies that showed children's prenatal stress exposure can independently predict their socioemotional development, especially in the area of stress regulation (Glover, 2011;Korja et al., 2017;O'Donnell et al., 2014). However, to our knowledge, this is the first study showing that children of mothers with negative mood symptoms in pregnancy interact differently with their mothers. ...
Article
Full-text available
Our aim was to study the effects of maternal perinatal mood and maternal emotional availability on child emotional availability and negative affect during the still‐face procedure (SFP). The sample included 214 women who participated in a prospective study. We assessed maternal mood problems using the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview and PRAQ questionnaire during pregnancy and using STAI and EPDS questionnaires during pregnancy and at 6 months after delivery. Maternal and child emotional availability were studied using the Emotional Availability Scales during the SFP at 6 months. We observed and quantified child's negative affect during SFP episodes. We found that mothers with maternal mood problems (anxiety and/or depression) during pregnancy, but not postnatally, showed less optimal maternal structuring during the SFP, and the children showed lower involvement and responsiveness during interactions with their mothers. Furthermore, lower maternal emotional availability was related to the child's higher negative affect during the SFP. Our findings underline the independent roles of both prenatal stress exposure and maternal caregiving behavior in a child's socioemotional development.
... Alike higher vigilance associated with anxiety disorder and moreover she might show dissociative symptoms. 24 ...
... 8 ADHD and anxiety disorder in later life. 24 ...
Article
Full-text available
Any conflict, extreme stress, emergency situation, natural disaster multiplies mental health hazard. History of Spanish flu outbreak witnesses the damage of pregnant women i.e. as short-term impact inflate the rate of preterm deliveries and the baby’s who were in womb persist the risk of developing medical and psychiatric disorders like diabetes, coronary artery disease, cancer and schizophrenia in future. Pregnant women are considered more vulnerable for COVID-19 as pregnancy makes women prone to respiratory pathogen, which leads to severe pneumonia. Women are three times more prone to anxiety than man. Continuous strict restriction on consultancy visit and gathering, rumors and contradictory information, uncertainty about delivery plan & health of mother and baby indirectly affected women’s emotional and psychological health of perinatal period. Fear and stigma grasps them when anticipating social discrimination and segregation from baby if they become positive. Growing evidence shows psychological impacts i.e. high levels of anxiety, depression and stress are prevalent among pregnant women irrespective of geographical and cultural boundaries across countries like India, China, Canada, UK, Australia and Israel. WHO recommended for adopting holistic approach of care, consideration of major two aspects (i.e. clinical and psychological experiences) in pandemic situations for helping in better positive coping of mother, baby and family members. This present review aimed to find out triggering factors, challenges, major types of psychological issues, consequences of psychological impact among perinatal women due to COVID-19 and want to prescribe evidence-based resolution and preparedness for combating such pandemic situation.
... Ensuing changes in maternal physiology, including increases in levels of glucocorticoids and elevations in inflammation, may influence fetal neurodevelopment by affecting placental functioning and/or by passing through the placenta and the fetal blood-brain barrier [122][123][124]. Although these maternal physiological signals may help prepare the fetus for the postnatal environment [125], they may also have adverse consequences, particularly when the postnatal environment does not match prenatal "expectations" [126]. For example, women's exposure to stressful life events during pregnancy is linked to differences in the structural and functional connectivity of amygdala-prefrontal circuitry in newborn infants [127]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Early exposure to psychosocial adversity is among the most potent predictors of depression. Because depression commonly emerges prior to adulthood, we must consider the fundamental principles of developmental neuroscience when examining how experiences of childhood adversity, including abuse and neglect, can lead to depression. Considering that both the environment and the brain are highly dynamic across the period spanning gestation through adolescence, the purpose of this review is to discuss and integrate stress-based models of depression that center developmental processes. We offer a general framework for understanding how psychosocial adversity in early life disrupts or calibrates the biobehavioral systems implicated in depression. Specifically, we propose that the sources and nature of the environmental input shaping the brain, and the mechanisms of neuroplasticity involved, change across development. We contend that the effects of adversity largely depend on the developmental stage of the organism. First, we summarize leading neurobiological models that focus on the effects of adversity on risk for mental disorders, including depression. In particular, we highlight models of allostatic load, acceleration maturation, dimensions of adversity, and sensitive or critical periods. Second, we expound on and review evidence for the formulation that distinct mechanisms of neuroplasticity are implicated depending on the timing of adverse experiences, and that inherent within certain windows of development are constraints on the sources and nature of these experiences. Finally, we consider other important facets of adverse experiences (e.g., environmental unpredictability, perceptions of one’s experiences) before discussing promising research directions for the future of the field.
... System of probiotic and rice intensification (SPRI) water-saving irrigation technique was utilized in this study, which was established based on the system of rice intensification (SRI) and probiotics techniques. SRI used the same irrigation concept as AWD that possibly promotes yield potential based on efficient water and fertilizer absorption (Chapagain & Hoekstra, 2011;Glover, 2011). In SRI operation, very young seedlings were selected for transplanting. ...
Article
This study aimed to establish a water-saving irrigation technique-based Smart Field Cultivation Server (SFCS) for paddy field irrigation by employing information and communication technologies. The development of SFCS considered the requirement on rice growth, pest development, and fieldwork management. The proposed SFCS is equipped with a solar power supply system and consisted of sensors including illumination, air temperature, air humidity, water level, soil moisture content, soil electronic conductivity, and soil temperature. Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) is used for data transmission due to the data size and transmitting frequency. A smartphone-based application (APP) has been developed for users to monitor field environment by tabular, dashboard panel, and whisker chart box, provides multiple data display ways for different purposes. Moreover, a proposal for a water-saving irrigation technique named system of probiotics rice intensification (SPRI) has been integrated into the APP. With the developed APP, farmers will receive fieldwork reminders by calendar day that water-saving irrigation may be possibly implemented. The SFCS is not only shown ability on the field monitoring but also links the gap between the fieldwork application and modern technology.
... Increasing attention has been paid to the environment and experiences of the mother during pregnancy; consequently, PNMS has become an important subject of research. Animal (14)(15)(16) and human (17)(18)(19) research on PNMS suggest that exposure of the pregnant or preconception individual to stress is associated with a host of negative maternal health and pregnancy outcomes (e.g., preterm birth, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, fetal growth restriction) as well as adverse developmental trajectories for the offspring -especially on the neurodevelopmental (20) and metabolic level, such as obesity (21), diabetes (22,23), and cardiovascular issues (24). In addition, past maternal experiences with depression, exposure to adverse life events prior to pregnancy or environmental stressors in the woman's previous generations are thought to have similar adverse consequences as do immediate stressors (25)(26)(27). ...
Article
Full-text available
Introduction: Data show that maternal stress triggered by exposure to a natural disaster before, during or just after pregnancy is associated with adverse pregnancy and newborn outcomes. In this paper, the first aim is to describe our efforts to test a simple, low-cost intervention to large numbers of women following a major natural disaster. The second aim is to outline the challenges faced and lessons learned during the execution of this natural disaster study. Methods: The setting was the May 2016 Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo wildfire in northern Alberta, Canada. Women who were pregnant or preconception at the time of the disaster were invited to participate via social media. This prospective cohort study included a randomized controlled trial to test the effectiveness of an expressive writing intervention on the levels of prenatal maternal stress and maternal, birth, and early childhood outcomes. At recruitment and at multiple timepoints postpartum, a battery of questionnaires was administered to evaluate objective and subjective stress exposure to the fire as well as maternal mental health, resilience and its contributing factors as well as infant developmental milestones. Qualitative content analysis of the expressive writing was conducted. Discussion: There is an increasing need to develop effective, wide-spread, rapid, and low-cost interventions to reduce prenatal maternal stress, increase resilience, and improve pregnancy outcomes following a natural disaster. Though analysis of data is ongoing, we highlight the strengths of this study which include strong community participation, rapid recruitment of eligible participants, low-cost intervention and data acquisition, and successful testing of the intervention. We acknowledge the challenges we encountered including the high rate of participant disqualifications or losses due to incomplete collection of online data; evacuation, dispersal, and inconsistent return to homes; and the high levels of stress accumulated post-disaster which led to inability to complete the study. Despite potential challenges, there remains a need for such research amid natural disasters.
... In accordance with these hypothesis, hundreds of human studies ranging from epidemiological studies of famine or war to prospective cross-sectional and case-control analyses have isolated early life adversity as a prominent risk factor for mental disorders in adult humans [182,183]. For instance, according to the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) studies, exposure to one or more maltreatmentrelated ACEs accounts for 54% of the population attributable risk (PAR) for depression, 67% of the PAR for suicide attempts and 64% of the PAR for addiction to illicit drugs. ...
Article
Full-text available
Hippocampal adult neurogenesis has been associated to many cognitive, emotional, and behavioral functions and dysfunctions, and its status as a selected effect or an “appendix of the brain” has been debated. In this review, we propose to understand hippocampal neurogenesis as the process underlying the “Baldwin effect”, a particular situation in evolution where fitness does not rely on the natural selection of genetic traits, but on “ontogenetic adaptation” to a changing environment. This supports the view that a strong distinction between developmental and adult hippocampal neurogenesis is made. We propose that their functions are the constitution and the lifelong adaptation, respectively, of a basic repertoire of cognitive and emotional behaviors. This lifelong adaptation occurs through new forms of binding, i.e., association or dissociation of more basic elements. This distinction further suggests that a difference is made between developmental vulnerability (or resilience), stemming from dysfunctional (or highly functional) developmental hippocampal neurogenesis, and adult vulnerability (or resilience), stemming from dysfunctional (or highly functional) adult hippocampal neurogenesis. According to this hypothesis, developmental and adult vulnerability are distinct risk factors for various mental disorders in adults. This framework suggests new avenues for research on hippocampal neurogenesis and its implication in mental disorders.
... There are likely two categories of mechanisms underlying this vulnerability: neurodevelopmental effects and intergenerational transmission of social stressors. Studies in animals and humans suggest that maternal stress and fetal undernutrition might impact brain development and HPA-axis reactivity, both in-utero, and in childhood and adolescence [13,60]. These pathophysiological changes, along with genetic, epigenetic, and gene-environment interaction effects, might increase the odds of psychopathology, cognitive deficits, and impulsive behavior. ...
Article
Full-text available
Most suicide research focuses on acute precipitants and is conducted in high-risk populations. Yet, vulnerability to suicide is likely established years prior to its occurrence. In this study, we aimed to investigate the risk of suicide mortality conferred by prenatal sociodemographic and pregnancy-related factors. Offspring of participants ( N = 49,853) of the Collaborative Perinatal Project, a U.S. population-based cohort of pregnancies enrolled between 1959 and 1966, were linked to the U.S. National Death Index to determine their vital status by the end 2016. We examined associations between sociodemographic factors during pregnancy, pregnancy complications, labor and delivery complications, and neonatal complications with suicide death coded according to ICD-9/10 criteria. By the end of 2016, 3,555 participants had died. Of these, 288 (214 males, 74 females) died by suicide (incidence rate = 15.6 per 100,000 person-years, 95% Confidence Interval [CI] = 13.9–17.5). In adjusted models, male sex (Hazard Ratio [HR] = 2.98, CI: 2.26–3.93), White race (HR = 2.14, CI = 1.63–2.83), low parental education (HR = 2.23, CI = 1.38–3.62), manual parental occupation (HR = 1.38, CI = 1.05–1.82), being a younger sibling (HR = 1.52, CI = 1.10–2.11), higher rates of pregnancy complications (HR = 2.36, CI = 1.08–5.16), and smoking during pregnancy (HR = 1,28, CI = 0.99–1.66) were independently associated with suicide risk, whereas birth and neonatal complications were not. Consistent with the developmental origins of psychiatric disorders, vulnerability to suicide mortality is established early in development. Both sociodemographic and pregnancy factors play a role in this risk, which underscores the importance of considering life course approaches to suicide prevention, possibly including provision of high-quality prenatal care, and alleviating the socioeconomic burdens of mothers and families.
... The period from day 90 of gestation to parturition is the most important phase of fetal nervous system development (McIntosh et al. 1979). Studies have shown that in mothers experiencing prenatal stress the offspring is more likely to develop behavioral and neurobiological impairments (Glover 2011) as an effect of the presence glucocorticoids. Furthermore, glucocorticoids might not be the only mediator of the effects of maternal stress or inflammation on the offspring (Briscoe et al. 2006). ...
Article
Full-text available
This study aimed to investigate the influence of gestational stress induced by lipopolysaccharide (LPS, Escherichia coli) on the physiological changes of ewes, as well as on the subsequent behavioral interaction between ewes and lambs and on the memory and learning of 30-day-old offspring in a T-maze. Thirty-six nulliparous pregnant crossbred Santa Ines ewes with an initial live weight of 45 ± 6 kg, age of 12 ± 2 months, and body condition score between 3 and 3.5 (on a scale of 1 to 5) were divided into two treatments: LPS treatment (E. coli; 0.8 μg.kg−1) and Control (placebo/saline) administered in late pregnancy (day 120). Blood samples were collected before (0 h at 5:00 h) and 1 h, 2 h, 4 h, 8 h, 12 h, 24 h after the administration of LPS or placebo to determine the cortisol release curve. Rectal temperature was measured at the same time points. After birth, male lambs (N = 19) were used to evaluate the maternal-offspring behavioral interaction, weight, and cognitive ability in a T-maze. Blood cortisol and rectal temperature of ewes increased after LPS administration and returned to baseline levels after 24 h. The activities facilitating and stimulating suckling were higher on LPS group (P < 0.05). Lambs whose mothers were challenged with LPS during late pregnancy showed greater learning and memory disabilities including fear behavior and the inability to make decisions at 30 days of age in the T-maze. In sheep, the immunological stress induced by LPS in late pregnancy promotes an inflammatory response characterized by specific rectal temperature and cortisol release profiles, improving maternal care that can increase offspring survival; however, the exposure of sheep fetuses to maternal inflammation causes cognitive impairment in lambs at 30 days of age, which could not be reduced by the behavioral interaction between the mother and offspring.
... Despite these findings, which point to increased male sensitivity following exposure prenatal adversity, it is important to note that female sex-specific associations have also been reported. Thus, any sexspecific outcomes are likely to arise through the complex interplay of the timing of exposure during pregnancy, the specific outcome and biological system under study (42). ...
Article
Full-text available
Background The Fetal Origins of Mental Health is a well-established framework that currently lacks a robust index of the biological embedding of prenatal adversity. The Pediatric Buccal Epigenetic (PedBE) clock is a novel epigenetic tool that associates with aspects of the prenatal environment but additional validation in longitudinal datasets is required. Likewise, the relationship between prenatal maternal mental health and the PedBE clock has not been described. Methods Longitudinal cohorts from the Netherlands (BIBO: N = 165) and Singapore (GUSTO: N = 340) provided data on prenatal maternal anxiety and longitudinal assessments of buccal cell-derived genome-wide DNA methylation assessed at 6 and 10 years of age in BIBO and at 3, 9, and 48 months of age in GUSTO. Measures of epigenetic age acceleration were calculated using the PedBE clock and benchmarked against an established multi-tissue epigenetic predictor. Results Prenatal maternal anxiety predicted child PedBE epigenetic age acceleration in both cohorts with effects largely restricted to males and not females. These results were independent of obstetric, socioeconomic, and genetic risk factors, with a larger effect size for prenatal anxiety than depression. PedBE age acceleration predicted increased externalizing symptoms in males from mid- to late-childhood in the BIBO cohort only. Conclusions These findings point to the fetal origins of epigenetic age acceleration and reveal an increased sensitivity in males. Convergent evidence underscores the societal importance of providing timely and effective mental health support to pregnant women, which may have lasting consequences for both mother and child.
... Overall, however, mediating factors do not appear to be fully explored. From an evolutionary perspective, the children with symptoms of hyperactivity and conduct problems are more sensitive to dangerous signals as well as more impulsive to explore their environment, which could improve their odds of countering threats as well as their overall chances of survival [59,65]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Many physical and psychological characteristics are influenced by prenatal development. Some studies have located links between low birth parameters and behavioural problems, with the latter in turn associated with educational progress, career success, overall health, and subsequent life events. However, few studies have investigated whether this association also applies to children in the normal birth growth range. This study thus investigates the relationship between normal-range birth length, weight, and behavioural problems at the age of seven. We use data from the Czech part of the European Longitudinal Study of Pregnancy and Childhood (ELSPAC) cohort, which provides comprehensive insight into a post-communist country undergoing a period of economic transition. Childhood behavioural problems were measured in 1,796 children using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. Associations were modelled using weighted logistic regression. Birth weight was found to be linked to the total difficulties score, hyperactivity, and peer relationship problems subscales in a fully adjusted model while birth length was not significantly associated with any subscale in the fully adjusted model. We thus conclude that normal-range birth weight is associated with behavioural problems. It can therefore be assumed that the odds of behavioural problems and their consequences can be mitigated by preventive programs targeting pregnant women and children with lower but still normal weight.
... Both prospective and retrospective pregnancy studies in humans and animals suggest that psychosocial stress and anxiety can profoundly affect immune response, leading to complications such as preterm birth, preeclampsia, and poor birth outcomes [6,7]. However, pregnancy anxiety and stress-associated physiological mechanisms contributing to poor birth and infant outcomes are not well-established and inconsistent across the literature. ...
Article
Full-text available
Stress and anxiety significantly impact the hypothalamic–pituitary axis, and in pregnancy, the subsequent maternal–fetal response can lead to poor outcomes. The objective of this study was to assess the association between psychosocial measures of pregnancy-specific anxiety and physiologic inflammatory responses. Specifically, to determine the effectiveness of the Mentors Offering Maternal Support (M-O-M-STM) program to reduce psychosocial anxiety and associated inflammatory response. In conjunction with measures of pregnancy-specific anxiety and depression, serum biomarkers (IL-2, IL-6, IL-10, IL1-B, TNF-α, CRH, CRP, and cortisol) were analyzed for each trimester throughout pregnancy. Results demonstrated that women receiving the M-O-M-STM intervention had longitudinally sustained lower TNF-α/IL-10 ratios than the control group, and it was significantly associated with psychosocial measures of anxiety, specifically for fears of labor and spouse/partner relationships. Additionally, the anxiety of spouse/partner relationships was significantly associated with IL-6/IL-10 ratios. The findings highlight the important counter-regulatory relationship between anti- and pro-inflammatory cytokines and provide insight into the distinct physiologic responses to pregnancy-specific anxiety with early prenatal intervention.
... These findings are of vital public health relevance, as it is known that prenatal distress of the mother can be harmful not only to the mother herself but also to the foetus and the developing child (Glover, 2011;Rogers et al., 2020;Wu, Lu et al., 2020). Other studies report mixed results. ...
Article
Purpose To assess maternal mental health during the first weeks after birth including birth experience, postpartum adjustment to early motherhood and the perception of newborn behaviour, and how this may be influenced by the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods Ninety women who gave birth after the first enforcement of nation-wide disease control restrictions in Germany between 16 March and 10 May 2020 were surveyed and compared with 101 women who had given birth before the pandemic. Information on maternal mental health and maternal perception of early motherhood and neonatal behaviour were assessed at 3–8 weeks postpartum. Results Mothers who gave birth under the COVID-19-associated disease control restrictions did not show significant differences in depression, anxiety and social support scales compared to mothers before the pandemic. Birth experience was similar, while support during birth was perceived to be higher under the COVID-19 restrictions. Confidence in caretaking of the newborn and perception of neonatal behaviour were comparable between the two groups. Mothers expressed significantly higher dissatisfaction with the maternal role during the pandemic. Conclusions Overall, maternal mental health and the perception of the newborn and early caretaking during the first COVID-19 wave did not substantially differ from the perceptions of mothers before the pandemic. A potential influence of the pandemic on higher dissatisfaction with the maternal role may be associated with the pandemic conditions affecting everyday life and should be addressed in postpartum care and in future qualitative and longitudinal studies.
... Early life adversity experienced as early as during the in utero development has repeatedly been associated with a negative impact on offspring's health and development (Glover, 2011;Van den Bergh et al., 2017;Glover et al., 2018) and identified as a risk factor for a wide range of psychiatric disorders such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and stress-related or impulse control disorders (Lupien et al., 2009;Glover et al., 2018). These abnormalities arise from numerous alterations in brain structures that preferentially target stress/anxiety structures, among which the hippocampus. ...
Preprint
Stress is an unavoidable condition in human life. Stressful events experienced during development, including in utero, have been suggested as one major pathophysiological mechanism for developing vulnerability towards neuropsychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders in adulthood. One cardinal feature of such disorders is impaired cognitive ability, which may in part rely on abnormal structure and function of the hippocampus. In the hippocampus, the dentate gyrus is a site of continuous neurogenesis, a process that has been recently implicated in spatial pattern separation, a cognitive phenomenon that serves to reduce the degree of overlap in the incoming information to facilitate its storage with minimal interference. We previously reported that adult neurogenesis is altered by prenatal stress allowing us to hypothesize that prenatal stress may possibly lead to impairment in pattern separation. To test this hypothesis, both control (C) and prenatally stressed (PS) adult mice were tested for metric and contextual discrimination abilities. We report for the first time that prenatal stress impairs pattern separation process, a deficit that may underlie their cognitive alterations and that may result in defective behaviors reminiscent of psychiatric illness such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
... Studies have shown that grey matter abnormalities in the brain were 233 associated with a decrease in high-intensity pleasure(Tamm et al., 2020). Increased fear may help increase 234 vigilance and danger awareness(Glover, 2011). Another study has shown that great connectivity between 235 the ventral medial prefrontal cortex and the amygdala, higher fear with higher cognitive development 236(Gartstein et al., 2012). ...
Article
Background Understanding the relationship between the gut microbiota and temperament can provide new insights for the regulation of behavioral intervention in children, which is still lacking research. This study aimed to examine the relationship between the gut microbiota and temperament in a cohort of children in 1 year and 2 years old. Methods This study included a total of 37 children with completed information, in which 51 samples at age 1 and 41 samples at age 2 were received respectively. We collected birth and demographic information. Parents reported their child's temperament characteristics using the Infant Behavior Questionnaire-revised (IBQ-R) and Early Childhood Behavior Questionnaire (ECBQ). Fecal samples were collected from each child at 1 and 2 years old and sequenced with MiSeq sequencer. Multiple linear regressions and linear mixed effect models were used to analyze the relationship between the temperament and their microbiota composition as well as the diversity and effect of gender or age on this relationship. Results At age of year 2, Faecalibacterium was negatively associated with high-intensity pleasure and surgency. Bifidobacterium was negatively correlated with Perceptual sensitivity. Results showed no difference about three domains between year 1 and year 2, while gut microbiota showed diversity difference and genera difference. There was no gender and age difference on the relationship between temperament and the gut microbiota. Conclusions Temperament was associated with the gut microbiota over time. The temperament remained stable and the relationship between the gut microbiota and temperament wasn't associated with age and gender.
... In principle, therefore, it is possible that the mothers had suffered from increased HCC (and stress) over a longer period, even in pregnancy. Maternal stress in pregnancy may have caused deviations in the child's brain development (Glover, 2011), Child ADHD sym.: mother-report -0.12 -0.23** 0.04 -0.32*** -0.18* -0.07 -0.21* 0.16(*) 0.50*** Child ADHD sym.: mother-interview -0.05 -0.20* 0.02 -0.26*** -0.08 -0.12 -0.14(*) 0.23** 0.47*** (b) Unadjusted and adjusted correlation coefficients between HCC and ADHD variables Child ADHD sym.: teacher-report Child ADHD sym.: mother-report Child ADHD sym.: mother-interview (a) Unadjusted adjusted for: (b) Mother age; sibling ADHD (c) Mother age; sibling ADHD, mother educ., father educ., number of household members, mother depr. sym. ...
Article
Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) require increased caregiver assistance and supervision, and their parents have shown high perceived parenting stress. Hence, physiological adjustment processes in the caregivers, involving the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, seem plausible. We analyzed the association between maternal hair cortisol concentration (HCC) and symptoms of ADHD in preschool-aged children. 150 mothers of 4-5-year-old children participated in the study. To determine the HCC, the first scalp-near 3 cm hair segment was used. ADHD symptoms of the child were measured using teacher- and parent-report questionnaires and a clinical interview with the mother. When controlling for several putative confounders, teacher-reported ADHD symptoms were significantly positively associated with mothers’ HCC. No associations of HCC with the mother-reported ADHD symptoms of the child emerged. It is possible that teacher-reported ADHD symptoms of the child reflect relevant ADHD symptoms more validly. As our study is the first on this issue, cross-validation is needed.
... Adverse environments during the gestation period cause stress, leading to cognitive and emotional disorders and poor welfare of sows, including impaired health and their offspring's productivity (Baxter, 2000;Charil et al., 2010;Glover, 2011;Green et al., 2011;Coulon et al., 2013;Glover, 2014). The activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis releases glucocorticoids, which have been associated with several health consequences such as changes in response to pain, exacerbated stress responses, injury, and increased susceptibility to infection (Archie and Theis, 2011). ...
Article
Full-text available
The United Kingdom and European Union have banned crates for pregnant sows. However, animals are kept in a restrictive environment for up to four weeks after mating, leading to stress and different responses of the animals’ immune system. Here, we used vaginal flushing of gilts to investigate whether housing systems or an experimental inflammatory challenge with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) can modify the gilt vaginal microbiome. Alpha-diversity indices showed differences in the microbiota of gilts housed under different systems (q=0.04). Shannon alpha-diversity richness was higher in gilts group-housed in pens than in gilts housed in crates (q=0.035), but not higher than in other groups. The relative abundance of the operational taxonomic unit (OTU) (q<0.05) revealed specific differences in housing systems before a LPS or saline (SAL control) challenge. We found different abundances in taxa of Actinobacteria, Bacteroidetes, Cyanobacteria, Firmicutes, and Proteobacteria in gilts housed in the different systems before challenge. After the LPS challenge, significant differences were detected in the relative abundance of OTUs (q<0.05) for the LPS-challenged group compared with SAL animals for each housing system. The phylum Staphylococcus showed higher abundance among the LPS-challenged gilts than in SAL-challenged animals. Furthermore, Enterobacter was more abundant in the LPS-challenged gilts housed in crates than in SAL-challenged gilts housed in crates. Streptococcus suis, Conchiformibius, Globicatella and Actinobacillus were more abundant in LPS-challenged gilts in indoor group housing than in SAL gilts in the same housing system. Gilts kept outdoors did not show changes in vaginal microbiota after an LPS challenge. Gilts housed in crates showed clinical signs of urogenital infection, whereas gilts housed outdoors and in indoor group housing did not. The relationship between environment, immune response, and microbiota suggested that animals in a poor environments experience difficulties responding to a challenge and their vaginal microbiota is altered as a consequence, with decreased richness of normal vaginal microbiota, and increased opportunistic bacteria. Welfare indicators measured by gilts’ responses to housing systems however, do not fully explain mechanisms associated with the unique signature in vaginal microbiota encountered in the different housing systems.
... The notion of a critical (sensitive, unstable or vulnerable) period should also be viewed as a window of opportunity for improving health outcomes (Glover, 2011). Coined in the fields of ethology and neurophysiology, the term implies the existence of moments in the developmental trajectory (especially early), where highly significant effects (both favorable and unfavorable) can be produced. ...
Article
Full-text available
Complex perinatal syndromes (CPS) affecting pregnancy and childhood, such as preterm birth, and intra- and extra-uterine growth restriction, have multiple, diverse contexts of complexity and interaction that determine the short- and long-term growth, health and development of all human beings. Early in life, genetically-guided somatic and cerebral development occurs alongside a psychism “in statu nascendi,” with the neural structures subjected to the effects of the intra- and extra-uterine environments in preparation for optimal postnatal functioning. Different trajectories of fetal cranial and abdominal growth have been identified before 25 weeks’ gestation, tracking differential growth and neurodevelopment at 2 years of age. Similarly, critical time-windows exist in the first 5–8 months of postnatal life because of interactions between the newborn and their environment, mother/care-givers and feeding practices. Understanding these complex relational processes requires abandoning classical, linear and mechanistic interpretations that are placed in rigid, artificial biological silos. Instead, we need to conduct longitudinal, interdisciplinary research and integrate the resulting new knowledge into clinical practice. An ecological-systemic approach is required to understand early human growth and development, based on a dynamic multidimensional process from the molecular or genomic level to the socio-economic-environmental context. For this, we need theoretical and methodological tools that permit a global understanding of CPS, delineating temporal trajectories and their conditioning factors, updated by the incorporation of new scientific discoveries. The potential to optimize human growth and development across chronological age and geographical locations – by implementing interventions or “treatments” during periods of greatest instability or vulnerability – should be recognized. Hence, it is imperative to take a holistic view of reproductive and perinatal issues, acknowledging at all levels the complexity and interactions of CPS and their sensitive periods, laying the foundations for further improvements in growth and development of populations, to maximize global human potential. We discuss here conceptual issues that should be considered for the development and implementation of such a strategy aimed at addressing the perinatal health problems of the new millenium.
... Further, studies have demonstrated a genetic pathway that transmits psychopathology from mothers to their offspring over and above early parental stress (Rice et al., 2010), and a genetic link has been identified between psychopathology and circadian rhythms (i.e., eveningness; Toomey, Panizzon, Kremen, Franz, & Lyons, 2015). The second explanation may be related to fetal programming: Mothers with postpartum mental health problems frequently have symptoms already during the pregnancy, and mothers' prenatal stress can negatively affect offspring regulatory development (Glover, 2011), potentially including the development of sleep (Palagini, Drake, Gehrman, Meerlo, & Riemann, 2015). ...
Article
Full-text available
Optimal sleep quality fosters adolescents' wellbeing and, therefore, learning about its developmental determinants is essential. We examined how early family environment (i.e., parent-reported parenting, marital relationship quality, and mothers' mental health), obstetric factors (i.e., infertility history and assisted reproductive treatments, and pre- and perinatal complications and health risks), and children's emotion regulation in middle childhood predicted adolescents' sleep quality. We also tested the mediating role of emotion regulation in linking early determinants to adolescent sleep. Finnish families (N = 984) participated during pregnancy, infancy, middle childhood, and late adolescence. Results showed that only early maternal mental health problems predicted poor adolescent sleep quality. Contrary to hypotheses, emotion regulation did not mediate the effects of early family environment and obstetric factors on later sleep quality. Supporting the early family environment through improving maternal mental health can have long-term positive developmental impacts, including sleep.
... Distress and psychopathology are common among expecting and new mothers-for example, up to 20% of women report symptoms of depression in the prenatal and postnatal periods [1,2], and up to 60% report experiencing at least one stressful life event during pregnancy [3,4]. In turn, it is well established that maternal distress and mental health problems adversely impact children's development [5][6][7]. However, many women report high levels of positive mental health during the prenatal and postnatal periods, including high self-rated mental health and high life satisfaction [8,9]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Positive maternal mental health can improve perceptions of stressful situations and promote the use of adaptive coping strategies. However, few studies have examined how positive maternal mental health affects children’s development. The aims of this study were to examine the associations between positive maternal mental health and children’s internalizing and externalizing symptoms, and to ascertain whether positive maternal mental health moderated the associations between prenatal stress and children’s internalizing and externalizing symptoms. This study is based on the Norwegian Mother, Father, and Child Cohort Study (MoBa), and comprised 36,584 mother–child dyads. Prenatal stress was assessed using 41 self-reported items measured during pregnancy. Positive maternal mental health (self-efficacy, self-esteem, and enjoyment) was assessed by maternal report during pregnancy and postpartum. Child internalizing and externalizing symptoms were assessed by maternal report at age 5. Structural equation modeling was used for analysis. Maternal self-efficacy, self-esteem, and enjoyment were negatively associated with internalizing and externalizing symptoms in males and females. The association between prenatal stress and internalizing symptoms in males was stronger at low than at high levels of maternal self-esteem and enjoyment, whereas for females, the association was stronger at low than at high levels of maternal self-esteem and self-efficacy. This study provides evidence of associations between positive maternal mental health and children’s mental health, and suggests that higher positive maternal mental health may buffer against the impacts of prenatal stress. Positive maternal mental health may represent an important intervention target to improve maternal–child well-being and foster intergenerational resilience.
... Pregnant women not only have to endure the psychological distress and fluctuating emotions caused by pregnancy-related physiological changes, but also need to bear the mental pressure due to changes of maternal roles in the society or families. Previous prospective studies have shown that depression and anxiety during pregnancy are risk factors for adverse outcomes for mothers and children, inducing emotional, behavioral and cognitive problems in children (Bergh et al., 2005;Talge et al., 2007;Glover, 2011), and other animal and human studies also demonstrated that such adverse effects were mediated by the activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis (Barbazanges et al., 1996;A et al., 1992). ...
Article
Full-text available
Objective: To assess associations of single and combined exposures to lead and stress during different stages of pregnancy with offspring neurodevelopment. Methods: We measured prenatal lead (maternal blood-lead in early-pregnancy and umbilical-cord-blood-lead) and maternal stress levels in Shanghai-Birth-Cohort from 2013 to 2016. Maternal stress was assessed using Center-for-Epidemiological-Studies-Depression-Scale and Self-Rating-Anxiety-Scale during mid-pregnancy. The Ages-Stages-Questionnaires-3 (at 6/12-months-of-age) and Bayley-III (at 24-months-of-age) were both used to assess neurodevelopment. Results: A total of 2132 mother-child pairs with both prenatal lead and stress measurements were included. The geometric-means of blood-lead in early-pregnancy and cord-blood-lead were 1.46 μg/dL and 1.33 μg/dL, respectively. Among the study women, 1.89 % and 0.14 % were screened positive for depression and anxiety. Adjusting for related confounders, the combined exposures had stronger adverse associations with offspring social-emotional skills than single exposures; and the combined exposure in early-pregnancy was associated with greater neurodevelopmental differences than combined exposure around-birth, especially in social-emotion at 24 months-of-age [β (95 %CI): - 10.48(-17.42, -3.54) vs. - 5.95(-11.53, -0.36)]. Conclusions: Both single and combined prenatal exposures to lead/stress impaired infant neuro-development, and the effects of combined exposure may be more profound than single exposures. Combined exposure in early-pregnancy may be associated with worse neurodevelopmental outcomes than combined exposure around-birth, especially in social-emotional development.
... We further found that prenatal adversity interacted with both dopamine-related genes and maternal parenting behavior in affecting toddler attentional functioning. There is growing evidence for the involvement of prenatal adversity in the risk for developing ADHD-related phenotypes (Glover, 2011;Graignic-Philippe et al., 2014), although there is currently insufficient support for a causal relationship (Sciberras et al., 2017). The most commonly researched adversities in relation to ADHD include maternal prenatal smoking, alcohol and substance use, maternal stress, and offspring birth weight (Morgan et al., 2018). ...
Article
Full-text available
Background : Few studies have explored the complex gene-by-prenatal environment-by-early postnatal environment interactions that underlie the development of attentional competence. Here, we examined if variation in dopamine-related genes interacts with prenatal adversity to influence toddler attentional competence and whether this influence is buffered by early positive maternal behavior. Methods : From the Maternal Adversity, Vulnerability and Neurodevelopment cohort, 134 participants (197 when imputing missing data) had information on prenatal adversity (prenatal stressful life events, prenatal maternal depressive symptoms, and birth weight), five dopamine-related genes ( DAT1, DRD4, DRD2, COMT, BDNF ), observed maternal parenting behavior at 6 months and parent-rated toddler attentional competence at 18 and 24 months. The Latent Environmental and Genetic Interaction (LEGIT) approach was used to examine genes-by-prenatal environment-by-postnatal environment interactions while controlling for sociodemographic factors and postnatal depression. Results : Our hypothesis of a three-way interaction between prenatal adversity, dopamine-related genes, and early maternal parenting behavior was not confirmed. However, consistent two-way interactions emerged between prenatal adversity and dopamine-related genes; prenatal adversity and maternal parenting behavior, and dopamine-related genes and maternal parenting behavior in relation to toddler attentional competence. Significant interaction effects were driven by the DAT1, COMT , and BDNF genotypes; prenatal stressful life events; maternal sensitivity, tactile stimulation, vocalization, and infant-related activities. Conclusions : Multiple dopamine-related genes affected toddler attentional competence and they did so in interaction with prenatal adversity and the early rearing environment, separately. Effects were already visible in young children. Several aspects of early maternal parenting have been identified as potential targets for intervention.
Article
Background: Paternal stress is often assessed by maternal report and is posited to influence infant development indirectly by contributing to a mother’s stress and experiences during pregnancy. Far less is known about how direct effects of prenatal paternal stress, as described by fathers themselves, are related to an infant’s physiological functioning. We assessed fathers’ own experiences of stress and examined its direct impact on infant respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA), a biological index of self-regulation, at seven-month postpartum. Method: During the third trimester of pregnancy, the UCLA Life Stress Interview was conducted to assess chronic stress in mothers and fathers (N = 90). Infant baseline RSA and RSA reactivity in response to the Still-Face paradigm were assessed at seven-month postpartum. Results: Infants of fathers with high prenatal stress showed lower baseline RSA, possibly reflective of poor infant psychophysiological regulation. The predictive role of paternal stress remained significant after controlling for maternal stress. Conclusions: Our findings provide emerging empirical evidence to support the influence of prenatal paternal stress on infant RSA, highlighting the important role of fathers for child development.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Öz: Okul öncesi eğitimin tanımı, amacı, içeriği ve temel ilkelerine bakıldığında değerler eğitiminin yer aldığını görülmektedir. Aileyle başlayan kazanımların eğitim kurumlarında okul öncesi dönemden itibaren verilmeye başlanması gerekmektedir. Bu durum göz önüne alındığında okul öncesi programındaki etkinliklerde değer vurgusunu belirlemek önemlidir. Araştırmanın amacı çocuk gelişimi programı öğrencilerinin etkinlik planlarındaki değerlerin incelenmesidir. Bu araştırma nitel araştırma modeli ile tasarlanmış bir durum çalışmasıdır. Araştırmada verilerin toplanmasında doküman incelemesi kullanılmıştır. Amaçlı örnekleme yapılarak bir üniversitenin çocuk gelişimi programında öğrenim gören ve uygulama dersi alan ikinci sınıf öğrencilerinin anaokulu uygulaması için hazırladıkları etkinlik planları değerlendirilmiştir. 40 öğrencinin etkinlik planlarındaki okul öncesi döneme ilişkin MEB tarafından önerilen 8 değer (sevgi, saygı, hoşgörü, sabır, iş birliği, sorumluluk, yardımlaşma ve paylaşma) üzerinden içerik analizi yapılmıştır. Öğrencilerin etkinlik planlarında toplamda 41 kez okul öncesine ait değerle karşılaşılmıştır. Değerler sırasıyla; sabır (n=9), saygı (n=7), sevgi (n=6), sorumluluk (n=6), hoşgörü (n=4), paylaşma (n=4), işbirliği (n=3) ve yardımlaşma (n=2) şeklindedir. Öğrencilerin etkinlik planlarındaki bazı değerlerin öğretimine ilişkin bir örnek şu şekildedir: “Öğretmen çocuklarla hayvanlar hakkında sohbet eder. Çocuklara en çok hangi hayvanı sevdiklerini, evde hayvan besliyor musunuz gibi sorular sorar…. Zürafa üzgün evine giderken arkadaşlarının aklına şahane bir fikir gelmiş: tüm hayvanlar atkılarından birer parça verirse Zürafa için ona uygun bir çorap yapılabilirmiş… Zürafanın hayvan dostları ise “Bizim atkılarımız yeterince uzun ama senin çorapların fazlasıyla kısaydı. Hem sen üşürken biz nasıl yardım etmezdik ki?” (sevgi, paylaşma, yardımlaşma). Sonuç olarak, çocuk gelişimi önlisans öğrencilerinin okul öncesine yönelik değerler konusunda bilinçli oldukları, fakat kazanılması hedeflenen değerleri etkinliklerinde daha fazla vermeye ihtiyaçları olduğu görülmüştür.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Öz: Toplumsal bir varlık olan insan başka insanlarla iletişim kurduğunda evreni anlamaya ve anlamlandırmaya başlar. Ailede iyi iletişim becerisi kazanan çocuklar, dili daha verimli kullanarak kendilerini daha iyi ifade edebilmekte, duygu ve düşüncelerini karşı tarafa daha doğru bir şekilde aktarabilmekte ve böylece daha sağlıklı sosyal ilişkiler kurabilmektedir. Çocukların gelecekte nasıl bir insan olacağında ebeveynlerin çocuklarına yönelik tutum ve davranışlarının etkisi büyüktür. Bu çalışma çocuk yetiştirmeye ilişkin ebeveyn tutumu ile ebeveyn çocuk iletişimi arasındaki ilişkinin belirlenmesi amacıyla yapılmıştır. İlişkisel tarama modeline dayalı araştırma 55 gönüllü ebeveynle yürütülmüştür. Araştırmanın verilerinin toplanmasında ‘Birey Tanıtım Formu’, ‘Anne-Baba-Çocuk İletişimini Değerlendirme Aracı (ABÇİDA)’ ve ‘Anne Baba Çocuk Yetiştirme Tutumları Ölçeği (ABTÖ)-A Formu’ kullanılmıştır. Verilerin istatistiksel analizi sonucunda ABÇİDA ölçeğinde en düşük puanı dinleme boyutu alırken (3,03±0,32), en yüksek puanı ise empati boyutu (3,92±0,52) almıştır. ABTÖ’nün alt boyutu olan ‘demokratik tutum’ 66,71±5,57, ‘baskıcı ve otoriter tutum’ toplam puanı 39,98±5,65 ve ‘aşırı hoşgörülü tutum’ alt boyutu puan toplamı 27,11±5,29’dur. Ebeveyn iletişimi ve ebeveynlerin çocuk yetiştirmeye tutumları ile araştırmanın bağımsız değişkenleri arasında anlamlı fark bulunmamıştır (p>.05). Çocuğun birinci ve ikinci sırada doğması ile iletişimde konuşma ve dinleme alt boyutu ve demokratik ve aşırı hoşgörülü tutum arasında anlamlı fark bulunmuştur. Sonuç olarak ebeveynlerin iletişim boyutlarından aldıkları puan orta ve ortalamanın üzerinde olduğu, yüksek derecede demokratik tutum, orta düzeyde baskıcı ve otoriter tutum ve aşırı hoşgörülü tutum sergilediği görülmüştür. Anahtar Kelimeler: Ebeveyn tutumu, ebeveyn-çocuk iletişimi, okul öncesi.
Chapter
Many types of stress experienced by women during pregnancy increase the likelihood of the offspring experiencing a range of altered outcomes in later life. These include an increase in symptoms of anxiety and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), increased stress responses, and an accelerated life history. Many of these can be plausibly explained as evolutionary responses to increased external threat. Fetal programming can be considered an adaptive mechanism to prepare the child for the environment in which he or she will find themselves.
Chapter
The negative effects of prenatal stress on child wellbeing have been extensively documented. Here we consider a radically different perspective—that prenatal stress promotes postnatal developmental plasticity (Pluess M, Belsky J, Develop Psychopathol 23:29–38, 2011). We begin by outlining the differential-susceptibility hypothesis. Next, we describe two separate sets of evidence, one indicating (1) that heightened behavioral and physiological reactivity are markers of increased susceptibility (i.e., greater responsiveness to both positive and negative developmental experiences and exposures) and the other (2) prenatal stress is associated with heightened behavioral and physiological reactivity. After considering this indirect evidence consistent with the prenatal-programming-of-postnatal-plasticity hypothesis, we summarize the results of an experimental rodent study which manipulated prenatal stress and the quality of the postnatal environment via cross-fostering. We then consider a number of potential mechanisms which might instantiate prenatal-stress effects on developmental plasticity (e.g., microbiota, placental transmission). We conclude by outlining future directions for research.
Chapter
Individual differences in risk for neuropsychiatric disorders are shaped before the individual is born. In this chapter, we summarize existing evidence from animal and human studies describing prenatal programming in the fetus and placenta in response to prenatal maternal stress, and associated outcomes seen in offspring neurobehavioral development and risk for psychopathology. First, we review fetal neurobehavioral development and assessment, including fetal physiological monitoring and fetal neuroimaging. We then highlight extant research on associations between fetal neurobehavior and later outcomes. Emerging research also points to the involvement of the placenta, which regulates the prenatal environment. We continue by describing how maternal stress can disrupt the placenta’s fundamental functions, highlighting the role of nutrient transfer, placental barrier permeability, serotonin signaling, and epigenetic changes to placental genes. We close by discussing the importance of sex differences in fetal and placental programming as well as developmental timing of exposures, and future directions for research.
Chapter
Extensive evidence suggests that maternal stress during pregnancy has profound impacts on maternal, placental, and fetal physiology, resulting in long-lasting effects on children’s health and development. With increased recent attention to sex as a biological variable in research, more studies have begun to assess whether impacts of prenatal stress on children’s development may differ by sex. That male fetuses are more vulnerable to in utero physiological stressors is supported by a large body of clinical data as well as evolutionary theory on sex-specific life history strategies (e.g., Trivers-Willard hypothesis). However, sex differences in the long-lasting postnatal impacts of in utero stressors – and in particular psychosocial stressors – are less straightforward. The strongest epidemiological evidence of sex-specific impacts of prenatal psychosocial stress comes from neurodevelopmental and brain imaging studies which overwhelmingly suggest greater female vulnerability. Overall, female fetuses display greater responsiveness to in utero maternal cues compared to males, and the heightened risks of affective symptoms among girls following prenatal stress may reflect a “mismatch” between prenatal and postnatal environments. By contrast, males appear to be more vulnerable to asthma and wheeze following prenatal psychosocial stress. For other outcomes including perinatal endpoints and growth, evidence is equivocal. Several mechanisms to account for sex-specific response to prenatal psychosocial stress are proposed including hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal pathways, placental changes, and epigenetic modifications.
Article
Full-text available
Background Pregnant women’s stress, mental and physical health, and health behaviours can have important implications for maternal and child health outcomes. Aim To examine pregnant women’s levels of stress, mental and physical health, and health behaviours during the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods A cross-sectional survey was conducted online, with recruitment and data collection occurring between 16/6/20 and 17/7/20. Participants were pregnant women recruited via online pregnancy/parenting communities. Participants self-reported their levels of general stress, pregnancy-specific stress and COVID-19 related stress, mental and physical health, general health behaviours, and COVID-19 related health behaviours. Findings 573 pregnant women participated in the survey. Participants were most commonly resident in the United States (42.6%, n = 243), Ireland (41.2%, n = 235) or the United Kingdom (10%, n = 57). The majority (80.0%, n = 457) were married and educated to degree level or above (79.3, n = 453). Pregnant women reported high levels of pregnancy-specific and COVID-19-related stress, and low levels of mental and physical health, during the pandemic. Encouragingly, pregnant women in this study generally reported high levels of adherence to public health advice and pregnancy health behaviours. Stress and general mental health outcomes were best predicted by well-being factors (including stress and social support). Health impairing behaviours (e.g. poor diet) were predicted by both well-being and demographic factors. Discussion Interventions targeting pregnancy- and pandemic-specific stress at the population level will be essential to support mental health and minimise adverse outcomes for women and children during the pandemic.
Chapter
This chapter seeks to outline some of the key discourses relevant to the topic of cultureCulture/cultural/culturally and psychological trauma. Broad aspects of cultural perspectives and world view are contrasted, including the significant differences in perception and experience between those in collectivistCulture/cultural/culturallycollectivist and individualistCulture/cultural/culturallyindividualist cultures.
Article
Neuroplasticity during the prenatal period allows neurons to regenerate anatomically and functionally for re-programming the brain development. During this critical period of fetal programming, the fetus phenotype can change in accordance with environmental stimuli such as stress exposure. Prenatal stress (PS) can exert important effects on brain development and result in permanent alterations with long-lasting consequences on the physiology and behavior of the offspring later in life. Neuroinflammation, as well as GABAergic and glutamatergic dysfunctions, has been implicated as potential mediators of behavioral consequences of PS. Hyperexcitation, due to enhanced excitatory transmission or reduced inhibitory transmission, can promote anxiety. Alterations of the GABAergic and/or glutamatergic signaling during fetal development lead to a severe excitatory/inhibitory imbalance in neuronal circuits, a condition that may account for PS-precipitated anxiety-like behaviors. This review summarizes experimental evidence linking PS to an elevated risk to anxiety-like behaviors and interprets the role of the neuroinflammation and alterations of the brain GABAergic and glutamatergic transmission in this phenomenon. We hypothesize this is an imbalance in GABAergic and glutamatergic circuits (as a direct or indirect consequence of neuroinflammation), which at least partially contributes to PS-precipitated anxiety-like behaviors and primes the brain to be vulnerable to anxiety disorders. Therefore, pharmacological interventions with anti-inflammatory activities and with regulatory effects on the excitatory/inhibitory balance can be attributed to the novel therapeutic target for anxiety disorders.
Chapter
The underpinnings of child psychopathology are laid early in development and can be transmitted across generations. Following the review of prominent theories of intergenerational risk transmission, this chapter explores the mechanisms by which parent mental health, adversities, and social difficulties confer risk for early child psychopathology. We place an emphasis on protective factors that can interrupt cycles of risk transmission. We also review promising clinical interventions for mitigating intergenerational transmission of risk and provide future directions for research and clinical practice.
Article
The current study investigated 304 children from a longitudinal project (the Stress in Pregnancy (SIP) Study) who were exposed and unexposed to Superstorm Sandy (“Sandy”) in utero. They were prospectively followed from 2 to 6 years of age and their clinical and adaptive behaviors were assessed annually. Using a hierarchical linear model, the study found that in utero Sandy exposure was associated with greater clinical (anxiety, depression, and somatization) and lower adaptive behaviors (social skills and functional communication) at age 2 years. However, the trajectories were notably different between the two groups. Anxiety increased more rapidly among the exposed than unexposed group at ages 2–4, and depression increased only among the exposed. In contrast, social skills and functional communication were lower in exposed compared to unexposed children at age 2, but quickly increased and exceeded the capacities of unexposed children by age 3. The findings confirm that prenatal Sandy exposure is not only associated with an increase in anxiety, depression, and somatization in offspring, but also with greater adaptive skills as the children got older. Our study demonstrates that while children who have experienced stress in utero demonstrate elevated suboptimal clinical behaviors related to affective disorders, they nevertheless have the potential to learn adaptive skills.
Chapter
Since the late 1990s, there has been a substantial increase in horse behavior genetics research. This chapter reviews recent work in molecular genetics, pre- and postnatal effects on behavior, the relationship between hair whorls and temperament, and lateralization in the nervous system. These factors are critical to understanding individual differences. Advancements in molecular genetics have identified genes associated with novelty seeking and gaited horse traits. Foal “imprint” training procedures are reviewed, and a gentle method for training foals is presented. Finding appropriate methods for reducing fearfulness in horses has important practical implications. High hair whorls are associated with reactivity, but differences are less apparent in calm breeds. Behavioral asymmetry is a fundamental feature of animal brains. Left-eye systems control avoidance behavior and right-eye systems control approach behaviors. An understanding of the cognitive and perceptual abilities is necessary to ensure horses receive proper training, handling, management, and care.
Article
Full-text available
Objectives Quantifying long-term offspring cardiometabolic health risks associated with maternal prenatal anxiety and depression can guide cardiometabolic risk prevention. This study examines associations between maternal prenatal anxiety and depression, and offspring cardiometabolic risk from birth to 18 years. Design This study uses data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) cohort. Participants Participants were 526–8606 mother–offspring pairs from the ALSPAC cohort. Setting British birth cohort set, Bristol, UK. Primary and secondary outcomes Exposures were anxiety (Crown-Crisp Inventory score) and depression (Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale score) measured at 18 and 32 weeks gestation. Outcomes were trajectories of offspring body mass index; fat mass; lean mass; pulse rate; glucose, diastolic and systolic blood pressure (SBP); triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and insulin from birth/early childhood to 18 years. Exposures were analysed categorically using clinically relevant, cut-offs and continuously to examine associations across the distribution of prenatal anxiety and depression. Results We found no strong evidence of associations between maternal anxiety and depression and offspring trajectories of cardiometabolic risk factors. Depression at 18 weeks was associated with higher SBP at age 18 (1.62 mm Hg (95% CI 0.17 to 3.07). Anxiety at 18 weeks was also associated with higher diastolic blood pressure at 7 years in unadjusted analyses (0.70 mm Hg (95% CI 0.02 to 1.38)); this difference persisted at age 18 years (difference at 18 years; 0.89 mm Hg (95% CI 0.05 to 1.73). No associations were observed for body mass index; fat mass; lean mass; pulse rate; glucose; triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and insulin. Conclusions This is the first examination of maternal prenatal anxiety and depression and trajectories of offspring cardiometabolic risk. Our findings suggest that prevention of maternal prenatal anxiety and depression may have limited impact on offspring cardiometabolic health across the first two decades of life.
Article
Prenatal intrauterine exposures and postnatal caregiving environments may both shape the development of infant parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) activity. However, the relative contributions of prenatal and postnatal influences on infant respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA)-an index of PNS functioning-are relatively unknown. We examined whether prenatal and postnatal maternal emotion dysregulation, a transdiagnostic construct that spans mental health diagnoses, were independently related to infant RSA trajectories during a social stressor, the still-face paradigm. Our sample included 104 mothers and their 7-month-old infants. Maternal emotion dysregulation was measured with the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale during the 3rd trimester of pregnancy and again at a 7-month postpartum laboratory visit. Infant RSA was recorded during the still-face paradigm. Only postnatal maternal emotion dysregulation was associated with infant RSA. Specifically, high postnatal emotion dysregulation was associated with a blunted (i.e., dampened reactivity and recovery) infant RSA response profile. Infant sex did not moderate the associations between maternal emotion dysregulation and infant RSA. Findings suggest that postnatal interventions to promote effective maternal emotion regulation may reduce risk for infants' dysregulated psychophysiological stress responses.
Article
The prevalence of substance use among transracial and international adoptees is higher than that of non-adopted persons, and yet no specialized treatment modalities exist for this underserved population. Our purpose is to propose a substance use disorder (SUD) prevention program for transracial adoptive families that addresses the specific issues that face this community. There are several pre- and post-adoption factors which position transracial and international adoptees (TRIAs) to be at higher risk to develop SUDs. Some of these factors include adoption identity, trauma, loss, genetics, and racial discrimination. The biopsychosocial (BPS) model (Engel, 1977) is used to conceptualize SUDs in adoptees, and theories that focus on adoption-related development issues such as the Adoptee Stress and Coping Model (Brodzinsky, 1990) are also presented. Our proposed program, Strengthening Transracial Adoptive Families (STAF), utilizes the Guiding Good Choices (GGC) prevention program as its foundation to integrate a culturally responsive adoption-focused curriculum to best serve transracial adoptive families.
Article
In examining maternal depression, placental 11β-HSD2 mRNA expression and offspring cortisol regulation as a potential fetal programming pathway in relation to later child emotional disorders, it has become clear that sex differences may be important to consider. This study reports on data obtained from 209 participants in the Mercy Pregnancy and Emotional Wellbeing Study (MPEWS) recruited before 20 weeks of pregnancy. Maternal depressive disorders were diagnosed using the SCID-IV and maternal childhood trauma using the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire. Placental 11β-HSD2 mRNA was measured using qRT-PCR. For assessment of stress-induced cortisol reactivity salivary cortisol samples were taken at 12 months of age. At 4 years of age, measurement of Childhood Emotional Disorders (depression and anxiety) was based on maternal report using the Preschool Age Psychiatric Assessment (PAPA) and internalizing symptoms using the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL). Maternal depression in pregnancy and postpartum, and infant cortisol reactivity, was associated with internalizing symptoms for females only. For female offspring only, increased 12-month cortisol reactivity was also associated with increased emotional disorders at 4 years of age, however there was no association with placental 11β-HSD2 mRNA expression. In females only, the combination of lower placental 11β-HSD2 mRNA expression and higher cortisol reactivity at 12 months of age predicted increased internalising problems. These findings suggest there may be sex differences in prenatal predictors and pathways for early childhood depression and anxiety symptoms and disorder.
Article
Objective Childhood trauma exacts a lasting toll on one's own mental health and the health of one's offspring; however, limited research has examined the pathways through which this intergenerational transmission occurs. This study aimed to identify the transactions and mechanisms that link maternal early life trauma, maternal depressive symptoms, and children's internalizing symptoms. Method A pregnancy cohort of N = 1462 mothers (66% Black, 32% White, 2% Other race) reported their childhood trauma exposure and depressive symptoms during pregnancy. Maternal depressive and children's internalizing symptoms were measured repeatedly when offspring were 12, 24, 36, and 48–60 months of age. A path model tested the transactional associations between maternal and child symptomatology and mediation of maternal childhood trauma on offspring symptoms via maternal depressive symptoms. Results Mothers' childhood trauma history was related to greater prenatal and postnatal (12 and 24 months) maternal depressive symptoms, which were prospectively associated with offspring internalizing problems at 36 and 48–60 months. Child-directed effects on maternal depressive symptoms were not observed. The association of maternal trauma on children's internalizing at 36 months was mediated by maternal depressive symptoms at 24 months. Limitations Assessments of the key study variables were provided by mothers. Childhood trauma was evaluated retrospectively. Conclusion Women's experiences of adversity in childhood have persistent and cumulative effects on their depression during the transition to parenthood, which is associated with risk for children's internalizing. Given the two-generation influence of maternal childhood trauma exposure, attending to its impact may protect both caregivers and their children.
Article
Poor parental mental health and stress have been associated with children’s mental disorders, including attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), through social, genetic, and neurobiological pathways. To determine the strength of the associations between parental mental health and child ADHD, we conducted a set of meta-analyses to examine the association of parent mental health indicators (e.g., parental depression, antidepressant usage, antisocial personality disorder, and stress and anxiety) with subsequent ADHD outcomes in children. Eligible ADHD outcomes included diagnosis or symptoms. Fifty-eight articles published from 1980 to 2019 were included. We calculated pooled effect sizes, accounting for each study’s conditional variance, separately for test statistics based on ADHD as a dichotomous (e.g., diagnosis or clinical cutoffs) or continuous measurement (e.g., symptoms of ADHD subtypes of inattentiveness and hyperactivity/impulsivity). Parental stress and parental depression were significantly associated with increased risk for ADHD overall and both symptoms and diagnosis. Specifically, maternal stress and anxiety, maternal prenatal stress, maternal depression, maternal post-partum depression, and paternal depression were positively associated with ADHD. In addition, parental depression was associated with symptoms of ADHD inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive subtypes. Parental antisocial personality disorder was also positively associated with ADHD overall and specifically ADHD diagnosis. Prenatal antidepressant usage was associated with ADHD when measured dichotomously only. These findings raise the possibility that prevention strategies promoting parental mental health and addressing parental stress could have the potential for positive long-term impacts on child health, well-being, and behavioral outcomes.
Article
The adverse effects of plastic on adult animal and human health have been receiving increasing attention. However, its potential toxicity to fetuses has not been fully elucidated. Herein, biodistribution of polystyrene (PS) particles was determined after the maternal mice were orally given PS micro- and/or nano-particles with and without surface modifications during gestational days 1 to 17. The results showed that PS microplastics (MPs) and nanoparticles (NPs) mainly emerged in the alimentary tract, brain, uterus, and placenta in maternal mice, and only the latter infiltrated into the fetal thalamus. PS NPs and carboxyl-modified NPs induced differentially expressed genes mainly enriched in oxidative phosphorylation and GABAergic synapse. Maternal administration of PS particles during gestation led to anxiety-like behavior of the progenies and their γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) reduction in the prefrontal cortex and amygdala at Week 8. N-Acetylcysteine (NAC), an antioxidant, alleviated PS particles-induced oxidative injury in the fetal brain and rescued the anxiety-like behavior of the progenies. Additionally, PS nanoparticles caused excessive ROS and apoptosis in neuronal cell lines, which were prevented by glutathione supplementation. These results suggested that PS particles produced a negative effect on fetuses by inducing oxidative injury and suppressing GABA synthesis in their brain. The findings contribute to estimating the risk for PS particles to human and animal health.
Article
Life stressors during pregnancy can disrupt maternal stress regulation and negatively impact offspring health. Despite the important role of cardiac vagal control (e.g., heart rate variability; HRV) in stress regulation, few studies have investigated how life stressors and emotional support influence vagal control during pregnancy. This study aimed to (a) characterize patterns of cardiac vagal control in response to a stressor administered in pregnancy, and (b) examine the effects of life stress and emotional support on vagal control during rest, reactivity, and recovery. Participants included 191 pregnant women (79% Black; 21% White) living in an urban U.S. city (73% receiving public assistance). Heart rate (HR) and HRV (indexed by RMSSD) were recorded continually during the preparation, task, and recovery periods of the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST). Participants reported recent life stressors (e.g., relationship problems, financial hardship) and emotional support. Piecewise growth curve modeling was used to model rates of reactivity and recovery, adjusting for gestational age at time of assessment and recent health problems. Life stress predicted greater HR and HRV reactivity to the TSST as well as greater HRV recovery (vagal rebound). However, associations were only evident for women reporting high emotional support. Results suggest that pregnant women living with frequent life stressors may exhibit more rapid autonomic responses to acute stress, including more rapid vagal rebound after stressors, potentially reflecting physiological adaptation to anticipated high‐stress environments; emotional support may enhance these responses. Studies are needed to investigate long‐term health outcomes related to this stress response pattern.
Article
Full-text available
This article reviews the evolutionary origins and functions of the capacity for anxiety, and relevant clinical and research issues. Normal anxiety is an emotion that helps organisms defend against a wide variety of threats. There is a general capacity for normal defensive arousal, and subtypes of normal anxiety protect against particular kinds of threats. These normal subtypes correspond somewhat to mild forms of various anxiety disorders. Anxiety disorders arise from dysregulation of normal defensive responses, raising the possibility of a hypophobic disorder (too little anxiety). If a drug were discovered that abolished all defensive anxiety, it could do harm as well as good. Factors that have shaped anxiety-regulation mechanisms can explain prepotent and prepared tendencies to associate anxiety more quickly with certain cues than with others. These tendencies lead to excess fear of largely archaic dangers, like snakes, and too little fear of new threats, like cars. An understanding of the evolutionary origins, functions, and mechanisms of anxiety suggests new questions about anxiety disorders.
Article
Full-text available
Like humans engaged in risky activities, group members of some animal societies take turns acting as sentinels. Explanations of the evolution of sentinel behavior have frequently relied on kin selection or reciprocal altruism, but recent models suggest that guarding may be an individual's optimal activity once its stomach is full if no other animal is on guard. This paper provides support for this last explanation by showing that, in groups of meerkats (Suricata suricatta), animals guard from safe sites, and solitary individuals as well as group members spend part of their time on guard. Though individuals seldom take successive guarding bouts, there is no regular rota, and the provision of food increases contributions to guarding and reduces the latency between bouts by the same individual.
Article
Full-text available
Problems with language and symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in childhood and adolescence are often strongly linked to low scholastic performance. Early recognition of children who are at increased risk is necessary. Our objective was to determine whether mixed-handedness, which is associated with atypical cerebral laterality, is associated with language, scholastic, and ADHD symptoms in childhood and adolescence. Prospective data come from the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1986, a longitudinal, population-based birth cohort with assessments when children were 7 to 8 and 16 years of age (N = 7871). Teacher, parent, and/or adolescent reports were used to assess language difficulties, scholastic performance, and mental health, including ADHD symptoms. Mixed-handed children, relative to right-handed, had approximately a twofold increase in odds of having difficulties with language and scholastic performance at the age of 8 years. Eight years later, as 16-year-olds, adolescents had twofold increase in odds concerning difficulties in school with language and with ADHD symptoms. Mixed-handed children were more likely to have scores indicating probable psychiatric disturbance, including ADHD symptoms. As adolescents, mixed-handed children with previous behavioral problems were at considerably higher risk for scoring within the range of probable ADHD-inattention or ADHD-combined case. Mixed-handedness was associated with greater symptom severity in children and adolescents (P = .01) concerning psychiatric disturbance and ADHD inattention but not ADHD hyperactivity. The results indicate that mixed-handed children have a greater likelihood of having language, scholastic, and mental health problems in childhood and that these persist into adolescence. Thus, these results suggest that mixed-handedness, particularly in the presence of difficulties, could aid in the recognition of children who are at risk for stable problems. Additional research is needed to understand the connections between neural substrates related to atypical cerebral asymmetry, mixed-handedness, and mental health problems including ADHD symptoms.
Article
Full-text available
"Barker's hypothesis" emerged almost 25 years ago from epidemiological studies of birth and death records that revealed a high geographic correlation between rates of infant mortality and certain classes of later adult deaths as well as an association between birthweight and rates of adult death from ischemic heart disease. These observations led to a theory that undernutrition during gestation was an important early origin of adult cardiac and metabolic disorders due to fetal programming that permanently shaped the body's structure, function, and metabolism and contributed to adult disease. This theory stimulated interest in the fetal origins of adult disorders, which expanded and coalesced approximately 5 years ago with the formation of an international society for developmental origins of health and disease (DOHaD). Here we review a few examples of the many emergent themes of the DOHaD approach, including theoretical advances related to predictive adaptive responses of the fetus to a broad range of environmental cues, empirical observations of effects of overnutrition and stress during pregnancy on outcomes in childhood and adulthood, and potential epigenetic mechanisms that may underlie these observations and theory. Next, we discuss the relevance of the DOHaD approach to reproductive medicine. Finally, we consider the next steps that might be taken to apply, evaluate, and extend the DOHaD approach.
Article
Full-text available
The aim of the present study was to examine the association between prenatal psychosocial stress exposure and subsequent prefrontal cortex-dependent working memory performance in human adults. Working memory performance was assessed using an item-recognition task under 10 mg hydrocortisone (cortisol) and placebo conditions in a sample of 32 healthy young women (mean age = 25 +/- 4.34 years) whose mothers experienced a major negative life event during their pregnancy (Prenatal Stress, PS group), and in a comparison group of 27 healthy young women (mean age = 24 +/- 3.4 years). The two groups did not differ in the placebo condition, however, subjects in the PS group showed longer reaction times after hydrocortisone administration compared with subjects in the comparison group (p = .02). These findings provide support for an association between prenatal stress exposure and the potential modulatory effect of cortisol on working memory performance in young adults, which may reflect compromised development of the prefrontal cortex in prenatal life.
Article
Full-text available
Among young children who demonstrate high levels of conduct problems, less than 50% will continue to exhibit these problems into adolescence. Such developmental heterogeneity presents a serious challenge for intervention and diagnostic screening in early childhood. The purpose of the present study was to inform diagnostic screening and preventive intervention efforts by identifying youths whose conduct problems persist. The authors examined 1) the extent to which early-onset persistent versus childhood-limited trajectories can be identified from repeated assessments of childhood and early-adolescent conduct problems and 2) how prenatal and early postnatal risks differentiate these two groups. To identify heterogeneity in early-onset conduct problems, the authors used data from a large longitudinal population-based cohort of children followed from the prenatal period to age 13. Predictive risk factors examined were prenatal and postnatal measures of maternal distress (anxiety, depression), emotional and practical support, and family and child characteristics (from birth to 4 years of age). Findings revealed a distinction between early-onset persistent versus childhood-limited conduct problems in youths. Robust predictors of the early-onset persistent trajectory were maternal anxiety during pregnancy (32 weeks gestation), partner cruelty to the mother (from age 0 to 4 years), harsh parenting, and higher levels of child undercontrolled temperament. Sex differences in these risks were not identified. Interventions aiming to reduce childhood conduct problems should address prenatal risks in mothers and early postnatal risks in both mothers and their young children.
Article
Full-text available
Recent human studies have shown that a wide variety of prenatal stressors, from anxiety and partner relationship problems, to natural disasters, increase the risk for a diverse range of adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes in the child. These include impaired cognitive development and behavioral problems, autism and schizophrenia. However, many questions remain about the underlying processes. Much of the research, based on animal studies, has focussed on the maternal HPA axis, with mixed results. Maternal stress or anxiety during pregnancy has been found to be weakly associated with raised maternal cortisol, if at all. The placenta may be a more promising programming vector, because it controls fetal exposure to the maternal environment. Animal studies indicate that prenatal stress can affect the activity of the placental barrier enzyme 11-betaHSD2, which metabolises cortisol. We review the evidence for a similar mechanism in humans and how maternal stress may cause other changes in the placenta which affect fetal neurodevelopment.
Article
Full-text available
Exposure to prenatal stress is associated with later adverse health and adjustment outcomes. This is generally presumed to arise through early environmentally mediated programming effects on the foetus. However, associations could arise through factors that influence mothers' characteristics and behaviour during pregnancy which are inherited by offspring. A 'prenatal cross-fostering' design where pregnant mothers are related or unrelated to their child as a result of in vitro fertilization (IVF) was used to disentangle maternally inherited and environmental influences. If links between prenatal stress and offspring outcome are environmental, association should be observed in unrelated as well as related mother-child pairs. Offspring birth weight and gestational age as well as mental health were the outcomes assessed. Associations between prenatal stress and offspring birth weight, gestational age and antisocial behaviour were seen in both related and unrelated mother-offspring pairs, consistent with there being environmental links. The association between prenatal stress and offspring anxiety in related and unrelated groups appeared to be due to current maternal anxiety/depression rather than prenatal stress. In contrast, the link between prenatal stress and offspring attention deficit hyperactivity disorder was only present in related mother-offspring pairs and therefore was attributable to inherited factors. Genetically informative designs can be helpful in testing whether inherited factors contribute to the association between environmental risk factors and health outcomes. These results suggest that associations between prenatal stress and offspring outcomes could arise from inherited factors and post-natal environmental factors in addition to causal prenatal risk effects.
Article
Full-text available
Human aggression is viewed from four explanatory perspectives, derived from the ethological tradition. The first consists of its adaptive value, which can be seen throughout the animal kingdom, involving resource competition and protection of the self and offspring, which has been viewed from a cost-benefit perspective. The second concerns the phylogenetic origin of aggression, which in humans involves brain mechanisms that are associated with anger and inhibition, the emotional expression of anger, and how aggressive actions are manifest. The third concerns the origin of aggression in development and its subsequent modification through experience. An evolutionary approach to development yields conclusions that are contrary to the influential social learning perspective, notably that physical aggression occurs early in life, and its subsequent development is characterized by learned inhibition. The fourth explanation concerns the motivational mechanisms controlling aggression: approached from an evolutionary background, these mechanisms range from the inflexible reflex-like responses to those incorporating rational decision-making.
Article
Full-text available
Dermatoglyphic asymmetry of fingertip ridge counts is more frequent in schizophrenia patients than normal controls, and may reflect disruptions in fetal development during Weeks 14-22 when fingerprints develop. However, there are no data in humans linking specific adverse events at specific times to dermatoglyphic asymmetries. Our objective was to determine whether prenatal exposure to a natural disaster (1998 Quebec ice storm) during Weeks 14-22 would result in increased dermatoglyphic asymmetry in children, and to determine the roles of maternal objective stress exposure, subjective stress reaction, and postdisaster cortisol. Ridge counts for homologous fingers were scored for 77 children (20 target exposed [Weeks 14-22] and 57 nontarget exposed [exposed during other gestation weeks]). Children in the target group had more than 0.50 SD greater asymmetry than the nontarget group. Within the target group, children whose mothers had high subjective ice storm stress had significantly greater asymmetry than those with lower stress mothers, and maternal postdisaster cortisol had a significant negative correlation with the children's dermatoglyphic asymmetry (r = -.56). Prenatal maternal stress during the period of fingerprint development results in greater dermatoglyphic asymmetry in their children, especially in the face of greater maternal distress.
Article
Full-text available
Maternal care influences hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) function in the rat through epigenetic programming of glucocorticoid receptor expression. In humans, childhood abuse alters HPA stress responses and increases the risk of suicide. We examined epigenetic differences in a neuron-specific glucocorticoid receptor (NR3C1) promoter between postmortem hippocampus obtained from suicide victims with a history of childhood abuse and those from either suicide victims with no childhood abuse or controls. We found decreased levels of glucocorticoid receptor mRNA, as well as mRNA transcripts bearing the glucocorticoid receptor 1F splice variant and increased cytosine methylation of an NR3C1 promoter. Patch-methylated NR3C1 promoter constructs that mimicked the methylation state in samples from abused suicide victims showed decreased NGFI-A transcription factor binding and NGFI-A-inducible gene transcription. These findings translate previous results from rat to humans and suggest a common effect of parental care on the epigenetic regulation of hippocampal glucocorticoid receptor expression.
Article
Full-text available
Emotions research is now routinely grounded in evolution, but explicit evolutionary analyses of emotions remain rare. This article considers the implications of natural selection for several classic questions about emotions and emotional disorders. Emotions are special modes of operation shaped by natural selection. They adjust multiple response parameters in ways that have increased fitness in adaptively challenging situations that recurred over the course of evolution. They are valenced because selection shapes special processes for situations that have influenced fitness in the past. In situations that decrease fitness, negative emotions are useful and positive emotions are harmful. Selection has partially differentiated subtypes of emotions from generic precursor states to deal with specialized situations. This has resulted in untidy emotions that blur into each other on dozens of dimensions, rendering the quest for simple categorically distinct emotions futile. Selection has shaped flexible mechanisms that control the expression of emotions on the basis of an individual's appraisal of the meaning of events for his or her ability to reach personal goals. The prevalence of emotional disorders can be attributed to several evolutionary factors.
Article
Full-text available
The current study sought to determine whether prenatal 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methamphetamine (MDMA) exposure from E14-20 in the rat resulted in behavioral sequelae in adult offspring. Prenatal MDMA exposure results in increased dopaminergic fiber density in the prefrontal cortex, striatum and nucleus accumbens of young rats. Since these areas are critical in response to novelty, reward, attention and locomotor activity, we hypothesized that prenatal MDMA exposure would produce significant changes in the performance of tasks that examine such behaviors in adult rats. Adult rats prenatally exposed to MDMA exhibited greater activity and spent more time in the center during a novel open field test as compared to controls. This increased activity was not reflected in normal home cage activity. Prenatal exposure to MDMA did not affect feeding or food reward. It did not alter cocaine self-administration behaviors, nor did it have an effect on the locomotor response to amphetamine challenge. Finally, while prenatal MDMA did not affect performance in the radial arm maze or the Morris water maze (MWM), these animals demonstrated altered performance in a cued MWM paradigm. Prenatal MDMA exposure resulted in perseverative attendance to a hanging cue when the platform in the MWM was removed as compared to controls. Together, these data demonstrate that prenatal exposure to MDMA results in a behavioral phenotype in adult rats characterized by reduced anxiety, a heightened response to novelty, and "hyperattentiveness" to environmental cues during spatial learning.
Article
Full-text available
Postpartum depression (PPD) is considered a major public health problem that conveys risk to mothers and offspring. Yet PPD typically occurs in the context of a lifelong episodic illness, and its putative effects might derive from the child's exposure to other episodes, in pregnancy or later childhood. The aim of the study is to test two hypotheses: (1) that the effects of PPD on adolescent outcomes are partly explained by antepartum depression (APD) and (2) that the effects of APD and PPD are both explained by later exposure to the mother's depression. A random sample of 178 antenatal patients was drawn from two general medical practices in South London; 171 gave birth to live infants, and 150 (88%) were assessed at 3 months post partum, with 121 of their offspring (81%) assessed for emotional disorders (ED), disruptive behaviour disorders (DBD) and IQ, at 11 and 16 years of age. When APD and subsequent episodes of depression were taken into account, PPD had a significant effect on adolescent IQ, especially for boys, but did not predict psychopathology. ED and DBD in adolescence were predicted by the extent of exposure to maternal depression after 3 months post partum; a significant effect of APD on ED in girls was accounted for by later exposure to the mother's illness. Mothers' symptoms of anxiety, smoking and alcohol use in pregnancy did not predict adolescent outcomes, once maternal depression was taken into account. Some effects attributed to mothers' mental health problems in pregnancy or post partum may be mediated by cumulative exposure to maternal illness, probably reflecting genetic influence and gene-environment correlation. However, PPD has a direct effect on cognition. Clinicians should endeavour to identify women with depression in pregnancy (31% of this sample) and help them to manage their lifelong illness.
Article
Low birthweight is now known to be associated with increased rates of coronary heart disease and the related disorders stroke, hypertension and non-insulin dependent diabetes. These associations have been extensively replicated in studies in different countries and are not the result of confounding variables. They extend across the normal range of birthweight and depend on lower birthweights in relation to the duration of gestation rather than the effects of premature birth. The associations are thought to be consequences of developmental plasticity, the phenomenon by which one genotype can give rise to a range of different physiological or morphological states in response to different environmental conditions during development. Recent observations have shown that impaired growth in infancy and rapid childhood weight gain exacerbate the effects of impaired prenatal growth. A new vision of optimal early human development is emerging which takes account of both short and long-term outcomes.
Article
How often has anyone said after reading a textbook, “Wow, what a great read!”? That is what I just did. Peter Gluckman, along with Alan Beedle and Mark Hanson, have written a wonderful introduction to the principles of evolutionary biology and defined ways in which these principles can be applied to understanding human disease. I would recommend the first part of the book, “Fundamentals of Evolutionary Biology” (150 pp) to any reader, whether medical professional or layperson, interested in a clear, concise, complete, yet eminently readable introduction to modern evolutionary theory. The authors not only manage to give the reader a sense of how human beings are inextricably linked to their evolutionary past—hairless apes, as it were—but also provide examples of traits, such as menstruation, menopause, having unusually fat infants and an unusually short intestinal tract, needing vitamins C and D, that are unique to humans and a few of their ape relatives, and how these create exciting medical puzzles for evolutionary biologists to explain and physicians to treat.
Article
Animal studies suggest that psychological factors may interfere with the development of brain asymmetry during gestation. We evaluated whether psychological exposure in pregnancy was associated with mixed-handedness in the offspring. In a follow-up design study, 824 Danish-speaking women with singleton pregnancies provided information on psychological distress and the occurrence of life events in the early second and third trimesters of pregnancy. Handedness of the children was based on maternal reports when the children were 3 years of age. Among the 419 males and 405 females, 7% and 5% respectively were mixed-handed whereas mixed-handedness was found in 3% of the parents. Psychological distress in the third trimester as well as higher levels of stressful life events were related to a higher prevalence of mixed-handedness in the offspring. About 16% of the women reported more than one life event in the third trimester of pregnancy and among the offspring of these women 11% were mixed-handed (odds ratio=2.3; 95% confidence interval 1.2 to 4.4). Women who at the same time reported a high level of distress and stressful life events, had a three- to four-fold higher prevalence of mixed-handedness in their offspring.
Article
We review a significant body of evidence from independent prospective studies that if a mother is stressed while pregnant, her child is substantially more likely to have emotional or cognitive problems, including an increased risk of attentional deficit/hyperactivity, anxiety, and language delay. These findings are independent of effects due to maternal postnatal depression and anxiety. We still do not know what forms of anxiety or stress are most detrimental, but research suggests that the relationship with the partner can be important in this respect. The magnitude of these effects is clinically significant, as the attributable load of emotional/behavioral problems due to antenatal stress and/or anxiety is approximately 15%. Animal models suggest that activity of the stress-responsive hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and its hormonal end-product cortisol are involved in these effects in both mother and offspring. The fetal environment can be altered if stress in the mother changes her hormonal profile, and in humans, there is a strong correlation between maternal and fetal cortisol levels. However, many problems remain in understanding the mechanisms involved in this interaction. For example, maternal cortisol responses to stress decline over the course of pregnancy, and earlier in pregnancy, the link between maternal and fetal cortisol is less robust. It is possible that the effects of maternal anxiety and stress on the developing fetus and child are moderated by other factors such as a maternal diet (e.g., protein load). It is suggested that extra vigilance or anxiety, readily distracted attention, or a hyper-responsive HPA axis may have been adaptive in a stressful environment during evolution, but exists today at the cost of vulnerability to neurodevelopmental disorders.
Article
Low birthweight is now known to be associated with increased rates of coronary heart disease and the related disorders stroke, hypertension and non-insulin dependent diabetes. These associations have been extensively replicated in studies in different countries and are not the result of confounding variables. They extend across the normal range of birthweight and depend on lower birthweights in relation to the duration of gestation rather than the effects of premature birth. The associations are thought to be consequences of developmental plasticity, the phenomenon by which one genotype can give rise to a range of different physiological or morphological states in response to different environmental conditions during development. Recent observations have shown that impaired growth in infancy and rapid childhood weight gain exacerbate the effects of impaired prenatal growth. A new vision of optimal early human development is emerging which takes account of both short and long-term outcomes.
Article
Human social interaction is rarely guided by pure reason. Instead, in situation in which humans have the option to cooperate, to defect, or to punish non-cooperative behavior of another person, they quite uniformly tend to reciprocate “good” deeds, reject unfair proposals, and try to enforce obedience to social rules and norms in non-cooperative individuals (“free-riders”), even if the punishment incurs costs to the punisher. Abundant research using various game theoretical approaches has examined these apparently irrational human behaviors. This article reviews the evolutionary rationale of how such behavior could have been favored by selection. It explores the cognitive mechanisms required to compute possible scenarios of cooperation, defection, and the detection of cheating. Moreover, the article summarizes recent research developments into individual differences in behavior, which suggest that temperament and character as well as between- and within-sex differences in hormonal status influence behavior in social exchange. Finally, we present an overview over studies that have addressed the question of how neuropsychiatric disorders may alter performance in game theoretical paradigms, and propose how empirical approaches into this fascinating field can advance our understanding of human nature.
Article
Experimental animal studies suggest that early glucocorticoid exposure may have lasting effects on the neurodevelopment of the offspring; animal studies also suggest that this effect may be eliminated by positive postnatal rearing. The relevance of these findings to humans is not known. We prospectively followed 125 mothers and their normally developing children from pregnancy through 17 months postnatal. Amniotic fluid was obtained at, on average, 17.2 weeks gestation; infants were assessed at an average age of 17 months with the Bayley Scales of Infant Development, and ratings of infant-mother attachment classification were made from the standard Ainsworth Strange Situation assessment. Prenatal cortisol exposure, indexed by amniotic fluid levels, negatively predicted cognitive ability in the infant, independent of prenatal, obstetric, and socioeconomic factors. This association was moderated by child-mother attachment: in children with an insecure attachment, the correlation was [r(54) = -.47, p < .001]; in contrast, the association was nonexistent in children who had a secure attachment [r(70) = -.05, ns]. These findings mimic experimental animal findings and provide the first direct human evidence that increased cortisol in utero is associated with impaired cognitive development, and that its impact is dependent on the quality of the mother-infant relationship.
Article
There is extensive evidence in rats that prenatal environmental stress (PES) exposure and early postnatal altered maternal care, as a consequence of stress during gestation, can detrimentally affect the brain and behavioral development of the offspring. In order to separate the effect of PES on the fetuses from that on the behavior of the mother, in the present study, we used a cross-fostering procedure in which PES-fetuses were raised by non-stressed mothers and non PES-fetuses were raised by stressed mothers. In Experiment 1, non-stressed mothers showed significantly more maternal behavior than stressed mothers. In Experiment 2, when the female offspring from Experiment 1 reached maturity, they were tested for: (1) induced maternal behavior (MB), (2) plasma levels of corticosterone (Cpd B), progesterone (P), and estradiol (E2), (3) number of accessory olfactory bulb (AOB) mitral cells, and (4) c-fos expression measured in AOB and medial preoptic area (MPOA) neurons. We replicated our previous findings that the PES group reared by their own stressed mothers, when adult, attacked the young, expressed disorganized MB and showed altered Cpd B, P and E2 levels, plus a male-like neuro-morphological pattern in the AOB, by comparison with the non-PES group, reared by their own non-stressed mothers. By contrast, when adult, the PES group reared by non-stressed mothers showed hormonal and morphological neuronal alterations, but they displayed appropriate (full) MB. The non-PES group raised by stressed mothers also showed altered hormone levels, but showed full MB and no morphological neuronal changes. Significant differences in the AOB and MPOA c-fos activity, related to whether or not MB was expressed, were found in the non-PES groups, but not in the PES group reared by non-stressed mothers.
Article
Exposure to stress during critical periods of an organism's maturation can result in permanent behavioral changes and induced hyper-responsive to aversive stimuli as adult. Hippocampus is a plastic and vulnerable brain structure that is susceptible to damage during aging and repeated stress. The present study examines the effect of maternal restraint stress on the level of GAP-43, pGAP-43 and synaptophysin in the hippocampus of rat pups. Prenatal stress (PS) causes a significant increase of GAP-43 and pGAP-43 (p<or=0.001) in the pup's hippocampus during postnatal days 7 and 14, but not at later ages. Up-regulation of GAP-43 and pGAP-43 may alter the pattern of axonal growth and synapses' formation in the pup's brain since the first two postnatal weeks are correlated with peak period of synaptogenesis in the rat brain. We also examined the level of synaptophysin, a synaptic vesicle membrane protein, in the pup's brain. Our finding revealed that, PS causes a significant decrease of synaptophysin in the pup's hippocampus as compared to control (p<or=0.001). These changes are due to the direct effects of maternal stress hormone since repeated injection with corticosterone (CORT, 40 mg/kg) to pregnant rat during gestation days (GDs) 14-21 also gave the same results. Abnormal axonal sprouting and reorganization together with the alterations in synaptic vesicle membrane protein during the critical period of synaptogenesis may lead to a defect in synapse formation and axonal pruning in the hippocampus. These changes may be associated with stress-induced impairment of hippocampal function that occurs in later life of the offspring.
Article
There are several independent prospective studies showing that a wide variety of forms of prenatal stress can have long-term effects on the behavioural and cognitive outcome for the child. Animal studies have shown that prenatal stress, as well as affecting behaviour, can also reprogram the function of the HPA axis in the offspring. However, the effects on the HPA axis are very variable depending on the nature of the stress, its timing in gestation, the genetic strain of the animal, the sex and age of the offspring and whether basal or stimulated HPA axis responses are studied. There are also several recent studies showing long-term effects of prenatal stress on basal cortisol levels, or cortisol responses to stress, in humans. The designs of these studies differ considerably, many are small, and the effects on outcome are also varied. There is little evidence, so far, that altered function of the HPA axis in the child mediates the behavioural or cognitive alterations observed to be associated with prenatal stress.
Article
It is well established in animal models that the prenatal environment can have a major impact on stress axis function throughout life. These changes can predispose to various metabolic, cardiovascular, and neurobiological pathophysiologies. Emerging evidence indicates that the same programming effects occur in humans. It is now becoming clear that the pathophysiological effects are not confined to the first-generation offspring and that there is transgenerational memory of fetal experience that can extend across multiple generations. The complex mechanisms by which transgenerational transmission of stress responsiveness occur are rapidly becoming a focus of investigation. Understanding these fundamental biological processes will allow for development of intervention strategies that prevent or reverse adverse programming of the stress response.
Article
The goal of our study was to characterise the relationships between trait anxiety symptoms of women during their pregnancies and birth outcomes of their offspring using a longitudinal cohort from the Maternal Health Practices and Child Development Project. We used the State-Trait Personality Index anxiety measure that is based on Spielberger's State-Trait Anxiety Inventory to measure self-reported trait anxiety at two gestational assessments (fourth and seventh months, representing the first and second trimesters, respectively) and at a third assessment shortly after delivery (representing the third trimester). Demographic, social, psychological, substance use and medical factors were assessed prenatally, and outcomes of the 763 live, singleton births were determined at delivery. In regression models, trait anxiety at the second and third trimesters predicted lower birthweight and shorter birth length, controlling for confounders. Anxiety reported at the third trimester predicted shortened gestational age, controlling for confounders. At the first and second trimesters, the relationship of birthweight and birth length to maternal trait anxiety was only significant for severe anxiety. Women whose anxiety reached severe levels for at least two trimesters were significantly more likely to deliver offspring of lower birthweight and shorter birth length than those women who reported severe anxiety at none or only one of the trimesters. Additionally, offspring of women who experienced severe anxiety during all three trimesters had shorter mean gestational age than offspring of women who did not report severe anxiety at any trimester. Women who report chronic, severe trait anxiety are at the highest risk of having shorter gestations and delivering smaller babies.
Article
Because the brain undergoes dramatic changes during fetal development it is vulnerable to environmental insults. There is evidence that maternal stress and anxiety during pregnancy influences birth outcome but there are no studies that have evaluated the influence of stress during human pregnancy on brain morphology. In the current prospective longitudinal study we included 35 women for whom serial data on pregnancy anxiety was available at 19 (+/-0.83), 25 (+/-0.9) and 31 (+/-0.9) weeks gestation. When the offspring from the target pregnancy were between 6 and 9 years of age, their neurodevelopmental stage was assessed by a structural MRI scan. With the application of voxel-based morphometry, we found regional reductions in gray matter density in association with pregnancy anxiety after controlling for total gray matter volume, age, gestational age at birth, handedness and postpartum perceived stress. Specifically, independent of postnatal stress, pregnancy anxiety at 19 weeks gestation was associated with gray matter volume reductions in the prefrontal cortex, the premotor cortex, the medial temporal lobe, the lateral temporal cortex, the postcentral gyrus as well as the cerebellum extending to the middle occipital gyrus and the fusiform gyrus. High pregnancy anxiety at 25 and 31 weeks gestation was not significantly associated with local reductions in gray matter volume.This is the first prospective study to show that a specific temporal pattern of pregnancy anxiety is related to specific changes in brain morphology. Altered gray matter volume in brain regions affected by prenatal maternal anxiety may render the developing individual more vulnerable to neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders as well as cognitive and intellectual impairment.
Article
Although postnatal psychologic distress has been widely studied for many years, particularly with a focus on postpartum depression, symptoms of maternal depression, stress, and anxiety are not more common or severe after childbirth than during pregnancy. This paper reviews the newer body of research aimed at identifying the effects of women's antenatal psychologic distress on fetal behavior and child development, and the biologic pathways for this influence. These studies are in line with the growing body of literature supporting the "fetal origins hypothesis" that prenatal environmental exposures--including maternal psychologic state-based alterations in in utero physiology--can have sustained effects across the lifespan.
Article
Maternal stress and anxiety during pregnancy are related to negative developmental outcomes for offspring, both physiological and psychological, from the fetal period through early adolescence. This robust relationship is likely to be partly explained by alterations in fetal neurodevelopmental programming, calling for further examination of neurophysiologically-based cognitive markers that may be related to the altered structure-function relationships that contribute to these negative developmental outcomes. The current investigation examined the relationship between perinatal maternal anxiety and neonatal auditory evoked responses (AERs) to mother and stranger voices. Results indicated that neonates of low-anxiety mothers displayed more negative frontal slow wave amplitudes in response to their mother's voice compared to a female stranger's voice, while neonates of high-anxiety mothers showed the opposite pattern. These findings suggest that neonates of perinatally anxious mothers may demonstrate neurophysiologically-based differences in attentional allocation. This could represent one pathway to the negative psychological outcomes seen throughout development in offspring of anxious mothers.