Maternal Distress and Offspring Neurodevelopment: Challenges and Opportunities for Pre-clinical Research Models.

TitleMaternal Distress and Offspring Neurodevelopment: Challenges and Opportunities for Pre-clinical Research Models.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsFitzgerald E, Parent C, Kee MZL, Meaney MJ
JournalFront Hum Neurosci
Volume15
Pagination635304
Date Published2021
ISSN1662-5161
Abstract

Pre-natal exposure to acute maternal trauma or chronic maternal distress can confer increased risk for psychiatric disorders in later life. Acute maternal trauma is the result of unforeseen environmental or personal catastrophes, while chronic maternal distress is associated with anxiety or depression. Animal studies investigating the effects of pre-natal stress have largely used brief stress exposures during pregnancy to identify critical periods of fetal vulnerability, a paradigm which holds face validity to acute maternal trauma in humans. While understanding these effects is undoubtably important, the literature suggests maternal stress in humans is typically chronic and persistent from pre-conception through gestation. In this review, we provide evidence to this effect and suggest a realignment of current animal models to recapitulate this chronicity. We also consider candidate mediators, moderators and mechanisms of maternal distress, and suggest a wider breadth of research is needed, along with the incorporation of advanced -omics technologies, in order to understand the neurodevelopmental etiology of psychiatric risk.

DOI10.3389/fnhum.2021.635304
Alternate JournalFront Hum Neurosci
PubMed ID33643013
PubMed Central IDPMC7907173