Document Detail

Frequency of infant stroking reported by mothers moderates the effect of prenatal depression on infant behavioural and physiological outcomes.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  23091594     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Animal studies find that prenatal stress is associated with increased physiological and emotional reactivity later in life, mediated via fetal programming of the HPA axis through decreased glucocorticoid receptor (GR) gene expression. Post-natal behaviours, notably licking and grooming in rats, cause decreased behavioural indices of fear and reduced HPA axis reactivity mediated via increased GR gene expression. Post-natal maternal behaviours may therefore be expected to modify prenatal effects, but this has not previously been examined in humans. We examined whether, according to self-report, maternal stroking over the first weeks of life modified associations between prenatal depression and physiological and behavioral outcomes in infancy, hence mimicking effects of rodent licking and grooming. From a general population sample of 1233 first time mothers recruited at 20 weeks gestation we drew a stratified random sample of 316 for assessment at 32 weeks based on reported inter-partner psychological abuse, a risk to child development. Of these 271 provided data at 5, 9 and 29 weeks post delivery. Mothers reported how often they stroked their babies at 5 and 9 weeks. At 29 weeks vagal withdrawal to a stressor, a measure of physiological adaptability, and maternal reported negative emotionality were assessed. There was a significant interaction between prenatal depression and maternal stroking in the prediction of vagal reactivity to a stressor (p = .01), and maternal reports of infant anger proneness (p = .007) and fear (p = .043). Increasing maternal depression was associated with decreasing physiological adaptability, and with increasing negative emotionality, only in the presence of low maternal stroking. These initial findings in humans indicate that maternal stroking in infancy, as reported by mothers, has effects strongly resembling the effects of observed maternal behaviours in animals, pointing to future studies of the epigenetic, physiological and behavioral effects of maternal stroking.
Helen Sharp; Andrew Pickles; Michael Meaney; Kate Marshall; Florin Tibu; Jonathan Hill
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't     Date:  2012-10-16
Journal Detail:
Title:  PloS one     Volume:  7     ISSN:  1932-6203     ISO Abbreviation:  PLoS ONE     Publication Date:  2012  
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2012-10-23     Completed Date:  2013-03-28     Revised Date:  2013-07-11    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  101285081     Medline TA:  PLoS One     Country:  United States    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  e45446     Citation Subset:  IM    
Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, United Kingdom.
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MeSH Terms
Infant Behavior*
Infant, Newborn
Maternal Behavior*
Mothers / psychology*
Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
Stress, Psychological
Grant Support
G0400577//Medical Research Council

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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