Prenatal maternal mood is associated with altered diurnal cortisol in adolescence.

TitlePrenatal maternal mood is associated with altered diurnal cortisol in adolescence.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsO'Donnell K, Glover V, Jenkins J, Browne D, Ben-Shlomo Y, Golding J, O'Connor TG
Date Published2013 Sep
KeywordsAdolescent, Affect, Anxiety, Circadian Rhythm, Depression, Female, Follow-Up Studies, Humans, Hydrocortisone, Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System, Pituitary-Adrenal System, Pregnancy, Pregnancy Complications, Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects, Saliva, Sampling Studies, Secretory Rate, Severity of Illness Index, Socioeconomic Factors, Wakefulness

BACKGROUND: Experimental animal work shows that prenatal stress has a persisting effect on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis of offspring. The implications of these findings for human health and development are not yet clear.METHODS: The data are based on the ALSPAC cohort, a prospective longitudinal study of a community sample that has followed mothers and children from pregnancy. When the children were aged 15 years, diurnal cortisol samples were collected at wake-up, 30 min post-awakening and at afternoon and evening times on up to three consecutive days on n=889 adolescents. Diurnal cortisol was predicted from prenatal anxiety and depression, obstetric, life-style, socio-demographic, and postnatal covariates.RESULTS: Multilevel model analysis indicated that maternal prenatal anxiety was associated with a modest alteration of diurnal cortisol, indexed by a reduced cortisol awakening response and flatter diurnal slope. The effects were independent of psychosocial and obstetric covariates and measures of maternal postnatal anxiety; effects were similar for prenatal maternal depression. There was no association between adolescent cortisol and paternal prenatal anxiety.CONCLUSIONS: There are small but persisting associations between maternal prenatal mood and diurnal cortisol in the child that persist into adolescence and may constitute a programming effect.

Alternate JournalPsychoneuroendocrinology
PubMed ID23433748
PubMed Central IDPMC3695029
Grant ListR01 MH073842 / MH / NIMH NIH HHS / United States
092731 / / Wellcome Trust / United Kingdom
74882 / / Medical Research Council / United Kingdom
076467 / / Wellcome Trust / United Kingdom
G9815508 / / Medical Research Council / United Kingdom