Does maternal antenatal depression alter infant hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis functioning in the offspring at 4 months postpartum?

Lauren Capron, Vivette Glover, Paul Ramchandani

Research output: Contribution to journalAbstract

Abstract

Objective: Antenatal depression is associated with an increased risk of adverse fetal and infant development. It is possible that these effects are mediated in part via altered fetal HPA-axis functioning. Infant HPA-axis functioning can be assessed through salivary cortisol. This study aims to further characterise this association.Methods: Pregnant women were recruited prior to elective caesarean and assessed for depression using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS). At 4 months post-partum mothers and their infants were invited to take part in an assessment session where a modified version of the Still Face Paradigm was used as a non-invasive stressor for the infant (n = 50). Saliva was collected at 3 time points during the session; prior (T1), immediately post (T2) and 20 min post stressor (T3). All samples were collected and stored within 2 hours of collection and analysed using Cortisol ELISAs (Salimetrics).Results: We observed no significant association between maternal antenatal depression and infant salivary cortisol levels at T1, T2 or T3 (all p's > 0.05). However, we observed a significant association between maternal antenatal depression and infant cortisol response to the stressor (T3-T2; p < 0.01, Rs = 0.468). This suggests that infants exposed to maternal antenatal depression have an increased response to the stressor compared to the non-exposed infants.Conclusions: These data suggest that fetal exposure to maternal depression may result in altered fetal development of the HPA axis, via fetal programming, with later consequences for infant stress regulation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-33
Number of pages1
JournalPsychoneuroendocrinology
Volume61
Early online date8 Aug 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2015
Event45th Annual meeting of the International Society of Psychoneuroendocrinology stress and the brain - Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: 8 Sep 201510 Sep 2015

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