Suzanne King

Mental Health and Society

Suzanne King, PhD

E-3131, 3C, Perry Pavilion

6875 Boulevard LaSalle
Montréal, QC 
H4H 1R3

(514) 761-6131 x2353

(514) 762-3049

Researcher, Douglas Research Centre
Full Professor, Department of Psychiatry, McGill University
Associate Member, Department of Psychology, McGill University
Associate Member, Human Development, Faculty of Education, McGill University
Associate Member, Department of Psychology, Université de Montréal

Role of prenatal maternal stress in the development of psychopathology

Suzanne King studies developmental psychopathology, and the developmental origins of health and disease (DOHaD). In the past, she has used retrospective research with schizophrenia patients and controls. Currently, her work is focused on 3 prospective longitudinal studies of children who were exposed to maternal stress in utero as the result of a natural disaster: The Quebec ice storm of 1998; Iowa floods of 2008; and Queensland floods in Australia in 2011. Developmental outcomes include cognitive development (incl. IQ, language, memory, attention), physical development (incl. body composition and obesity, metabolism, brain structure, immunity, craniofacial dysmorphology, epigenetics), behavioral development (incl. internalizing, externalizing, autistic- or psychotic-like traits) and motor development (incl. balance, coordination, fine motor, visual motor integration).

1. Laplante, D.P., Brunet, A., King, S. (In press). The effects of maternal stress and illness during pregnancy on infant temperament: Project Ice Storm. In press at Pediatric Research.

2. Cao-Lei, L., Dancause, K.N., Elgbeili, G., Massart, R., Szyf, M., Laplante, D.P. & King, S. (2015) DNA methylation mediates the impact of exposure to prenatal maternal stress from the Quebec Ice Storm disaster on BMI and central adiposity in children at age 13½ years. Epigenetics, 10 (8), 749-61. DOI: 10.1080/15592294.2015.1063771.

3. Veru, F., Dancause, K., Laplante, D.P., King, S., Luheshi, G. (2015) Prenatal maternal stress predicts reductions in CD4+ lymphocytes, increases in innate-derived cytokines and Th2 shift in adolescents: Project Ice Storm. Physiology and Behavior, 144:137-145. 
DOI: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2015.03.016.

4. Yong-Ping, E., Laplante, D.P., Elgbeili, G., Hillerer, K.M., Brunet, A., O’Hara, M.W. & King, S. (2015). Prenatal maternal stress and toddler stress reactivity at 2½ years of age: The Iowa Flood Study. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 56: 62-78 doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2015.02.015

5. Dancause, K.N., Laplante, D.P., Hart, K.J., O’Hara, M. W., Engeldinger, J., Yu, C., Elgbeili, G., Brunet, A., and King, S. (2015) Prenatal stress due to a natural disaster predicts adiposity in childhood: The Iowa Flood Study. Journal of Obesity, Article ID doi:10.1155/2015/570541, 10 pages. 

6. Cao-Lei, Lei, Elgbeili, G., Massart, R., Laplante, D.P., Szyf, M., & King, S. (2015). Pregnant women’s cognitive appraisal from a natural disaster affects DNA methylation in their children 13 years later: Project Ice Storm. Translational Psychiatry, 5, e515; doi:10.1038/tp.2015.13.

7. Brock, R.L., O’Hara, M.W., Hart, K.J., McCabe, J.E., Williamson, J.A., Laplante, D.P., Yu1, C., King, S. (2014). Partner support and maternal depression in the context of the Iowa Floods. Journal of Family Psychology, 28 (6), 832-843. ttp://

8. Cao-Lei, L., Massart, R., Suderman, M., Machnes, Z., Laplante1, D.P., Szyf, M. & King. S. (2014) DNA methylation signatures triggered by prenatal maternal stress exposure to a natural disaster: Project Ice Storm. PLoS ONE 9(9): e107653. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0107653.

9. Walder, D., Laplante1, D.P., Sousa-Pires, A., Veru, F., Brunet, A., King, S. (2014) Prenatal maternal stress predicts autism traits in 6½ year-old children: Project Ice Storm. Psychiatry Research, 219 (2), 353-360.

10. Turcotte-Tremblay, A.-M., Lim, R., Laplante, D. P., Kobzik, L., Brunet, A. & King, S. (2014). Prenatal Maternal Stress Predicts Childhood Asthma in Girls: Project Ice Storm. BioMed Research International, Article ID 201717,

11. Veru, F., Laplante, D.P., Luheshi, G., & King, S. (2014). Prenatal maternal stress exposure and immune function in offspring. Stress, 17(2), 133-148. PMID: 24417382.
12. Cao, X.J., Laplante, D.P., Brunet, A., Ciampi, A., & King, S. (2014). Prenatal maternal stress affects motor function in 5½ year-old children: Project Ice Storm. Developmental Psychobiology, 56(1), 117-125. 

13. Braehler, C., Valiquette, L., Holowka, D., Malla, A.K., Joober, R., Ciampi, A., Pawliuk, N., & King, S., et al. (2013). Childhood Trauma and Dissociation in First Episode Schizophrenia, Chronic Schizophrenia, and Community Controls. Psychiatry Research, 210 (1), 36-42.

14. Dancause, K.N., Veru, F., Andersen, R., Laplante, D.P., & King, S.. (2013) Prenatal stress due to a natural disaster predicts insulin secretion in adolescence. Early Human Development, 89: 773-776. 

15. King, S., Dancause, K.N., Turcotte-Tremblay, A-M., Veru3, F., & Laplante, D.P. (2012) Using Natural Disasters to Study the Effects of Prenatal Maternal Stress on Child Health and Development. Birth Defects Research Part C: Embryo Today: Reviews, 96: 273-288.

Suzanne King, Ph.D. is Professor of Psychiatry at McGill University as well as a principle investigator at the McGill-affiliated Douglas Mental Health University Institute, both in Montreal, Canada. After graduate training in psychology and educational research in Virginia, she conducted post-doctoral research at the Douglas, studying the family dynamics of people with schizophrenia. Her results led to the study of risk factors for mental illness, and then of prenatal maternal stress in particular. She is currently running three studies of children exposed to natural disasters in utero in order to understand the nature and mechanisms of effects of prenatal stress.

Quebec Research Fellowship (FRSQ: Junior 1, Junior 2, Senior) 1991-2003
Distinguished Visiting Research Fellow, Australian Catholic University Brisbane, Queensland 2012

Research Associate: David P. Laplante, Ph.D.
Statistician: Guillaume Elgbeili, M.Sc.
Research Coordinator: Isabelle Bouchard, M.A. (on maternity leave 2015)
Post-doctoral fellow: Lei Cao-Lei, Ph.D.
Post-doctoral fellow: Sherri Lee Jones, Ph.D.
Doctoral student: Sandra Lafortune (Psychology, Université de Montréal)
Doctoral student: Benjhyna Daniel (Psychology, Université de Montréal)
Masters Student: Kyle McKee (Integrated Program in Neurosciences, McGill)

Recent news

Dr. Suzanne King interviewed on ICI Radio-Canada
La pandémie sera-t-elle inscrite dans nos cellules à jamais?
Les femmes enceintes sous la loupe des chercheurs
Les effets de la pandémie chez la femme enceinte
Video Abstract: The Effects of Prenatal Maternal Stress on Early Temperament: The 2011 Queensland Flood Study
Interview CBC 2017
University study says stress experienced while pregnant has lasting health impacts for children
Suzanne King named co-Principal Investigator of the new Réseau Inondation Inter-Sectoriel du Quebec
Suzanne King
«De l'effet des vagues de froid sur le poids des enfants : le bilan du "projet Verglas» with Suzanne King (Sciences et Avenir, France)
Project Ice Storm: 20 years later Prenatal stress and natural disasters: impact on children’s health
«Quebec ice storm babies still feeling the effects two decades later» with Suzanne King (GlobalNews)
«Verglas: les 60 enfants de la Dre King» (Le Droit)
Le stress des mères détecté chez les "enfants du verglas" | Suzanne King (Le Devoir)
Les bébés du verglas» with Suzanne King (La Presse+)
Les 6 leçons du verglas | Suzanne King (L'actualité)
«Les 20 ans de la crise du verglas» -Suzanne King (Les électrons libres, Télé-Québec)
Stress chez les sinistrés : Les femmes enceintes doivent se ménager avec Suzanne King (La Presse+)
Trauma endures beyond the saturation point avec Suzanne King (The Montreal Gazette) en anglais
Suzanne et les bébés du Verglas avec Suzanne King (La Presse)

Recent publications