Breaking News
January 23, 2019 - African Americans who smoke cigarettes are more likely to develop peripheral artery disease
January 23, 2019 - Unique data combination helps FinnGen researchers to fund links between genetic factors and health
January 23, 2019 - Parents’ mental health problems associated with reactive attachment disorder in children
January 23, 2019 - Graphene Flagship project studies impact of graphene and related materials on our health
January 23, 2019 - The connection between the Pope and contraceptive pills
January 23, 2019 - Prior dengue infection could protect children from symptomatic Zika
January 23, 2019 - VISTA checkpoint implicated in pancreatic cancer immunotherapy resistance
January 23, 2019 - The Tiny Camera That Could Revolutionize Cardiovascular Surgery
January 23, 2019 - Peptide isolated from soil fungi has antitumor and antibacterial properties
January 23, 2019 - TGen identifies polio-like virus as potential cause of Acute Flaccid Myelitis outbreak
January 23, 2019 - Migrants and refugees do not bring disease and are at greater health risk themselves says WHO
January 23, 2019 - Examing the effects of menopause in workplace
January 23, 2019 - Enemy number 1 – Air pollution and climate change top of WHO agenda
January 23, 2019 - Two Positive Phase III studies of Tafenoquine for the Radical Cure of Plasmodium vivax Malaria Published in The New England Journal of Medicine
January 23, 2019 - World Trade Center responders at increased risk for head and neck cancers
January 23, 2019 - Low-sugar diet leads to significant improvement in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in boys
January 23, 2019 - Chaos in bodily regulation can optimize our immune system, finds study
January 23, 2019 - Short, text-based exercises can increase happiness for adults recovering from substance use disorders
January 23, 2019 - Body size may have greater influence on women’s lifespan than men
January 23, 2019 - Groundbreaking tool helps visualize neuronal activity with near-infrared light
January 23, 2019 - Holocaust survivors with PTSD and their offspring exhibit more unhealthy behavior patterns
January 23, 2019 - Scientists discover new genetic mutations causing inherited deaf-blindness
January 23, 2019 - UC team designs new naloxone-dispensing smart device
January 23, 2019 - Torrent Pharmaceuticals Limited Issues Voluntary Nationwide Recall of Losartan Potassium Tablets, USP and Losartan Potassium and Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP
January 23, 2019 - Brain activity shows development of visual sensitivity in autism
January 23, 2019 - Two hour gap between dinner and sleep is overrated says Japanese research
January 23, 2019 - Fear and embarrassment are causing smear test numbers to plummet
January 23, 2019 - Protein-secreting device implanted in epileptic rats reduces seizures, improves cognition
January 23, 2019 - Reintroduction project recovers current wild population of green turtle in Cayman Islands
January 23, 2019 - Cancer survivors face greater financial burden related to medical bills
January 23, 2019 - PSA screening reduces prostate cancer deaths by 30%
January 23, 2019 - LSTM receives grant to help improve health of people living in informal settlements
January 23, 2019 - Hemochromatosis Mutation Linked to Other Morbidity
January 23, 2019 - Why early diagnosis of autism should lead to early intervention
January 23, 2019 - Aspirin May Lower Stroke Risk in Women with History of Preeclampsia
January 23, 2019 - Exposure to certain chemicals may be linked to decrease in blood pressure during pregnancy
January 23, 2019 - Bowel cancer on the rise among younger Australians
January 23, 2019 - Scientists have reversed memory loss in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s
January 23, 2019 - Defective molecular master switch could lead to age-related macular degeneration
January 23, 2019 - Researchers identify how concussions may contribute to seizures
January 23, 2019 - Short interval between last meal of the day and bedtime may not affect blood glucose levels
January 23, 2019 - Still Too Many Highway Deaths Tied to Speeding
January 23, 2019 - Prenatal valproate exposure linked to increased ADHD risk
January 23, 2019 - Compound identified that may help treat heart failure
January 23, 2019 - Undiagnosed Asthma in Urban Adolescents May Be Common
January 23, 2019 - Study describes metabolism of intestinal microbiota in babies for the first time
January 22, 2019 - Study links concussions to development of epilepsy
January 22, 2019 - Specialist-led hospital bereavement service may help restrain legal action after difficult deaths
January 22, 2019 - Genetic study reveals possible new routes to treating osteoarthritis
January 22, 2019 - Blood test may detect early signs of lung-transplant rejection
January 22, 2019 - Blood marker could aid in early prediction of Alzheimer’s progression
January 22, 2019 - Orthodontic treatment does not guarantee future dental health
January 22, 2019 - Rutgers researchers discover cause of bone loss in people with joint replacements
January 22, 2019 - Diversity among rural Africans extends to their gut microbiomes
January 22, 2019 - Newly developed biological system lets cells to create self-curving cornea
January 22, 2019 - VTv Therapeutics Announces Publication of Comprehensive Data in Science Translational Medicine Detailing the Discovery and Clinical Development of TTP399, including Results of Phase 2 AGATA Study
January 22, 2019 - about one in three adults with prediabetes has arthritis
January 22, 2019 - A look at how data is democratizing health care
January 22, 2019 - Alcohol-Linked Disease Overtakes Hep C As Top Reason For Liver Transplant
January 22, 2019 - Researchers identify new genes linked with age-related macular degeneration
January 22, 2019 - MPFI researchers identify synaptic logic for connections between two brain hemispheres
January 22, 2019 - New approach to reduce toxic protein production in ALS
January 22, 2019 - New study extends our knowledge of the link between miRNAs and cancer
January 22, 2019 - Asthma, eczema are not barriers to active lifestyle in teenagers
January 22, 2019 - Genetic changes may predict likelihood of relapse in breast cancer patients
January 22, 2019 - Antiepileptic drug use by people with Alzheimer’s disease linked to accumulation of hospital days
January 22, 2019 - IUPUI researcher receives $2.85 million grant to find ways to improve bone strength
January 22, 2019 - Precision medicine can help keep astronauts healthy during deep space missions
January 22, 2019 - Detecting signs of neurodegeneration earlier and more accurately
January 22, 2019 - Mouse studies challenge ‘inhibition’ theory of autism
January 22, 2019 - SSB launches BIOSTAT RM TX single-use bioreactor for producing consistent quality cellular products
January 22, 2019 - Experimental drug can positively modify key characteristic behavior in FXS patients
January 22, 2019 - Low-Income Women Lack Menstrual Hygiene Supplies
January 22, 2019 - Better mouse model built to enable precision-medicine research for Alzheimer’s
January 22, 2019 - Molecular profiling of precancerous lung lesions could lead to early detection and new treatments
January 22, 2019 - Genetic factors influence where fat is stored in our bodies
January 22, 2019 - The Psychology Behind Sticking to Your New Year’s Resolutions
January 22, 2019 - Scientists aim to find genetic causes of developmental abnormalities in the vagina and uterus
January 22, 2019 - New survey reveals scale of preventative healthcare challenge in the UK
January 22, 2019 - Looming Global Crisis Means People’s Diets Must Change: Experts
Stress in pregnancy linked to changes in infant’s nervous system, less smiling, less resilience

Stress in pregnancy linked to changes in infant’s nervous system, less smiling, less resilience

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print
Stress in pregnancy linked to changes in infant’s nervous system, less smiling, less resilience
Credit: University of California, San Francisco

Maternal stress during the second trimester of pregnancy may influence the nervous system of the developing child, both before and after birth, and may have subtle effects on temperament, resulting in less smiling and engagement, as well as diminished ability to regulate emotions.

In a study led by UC San Francisco, researchers looked at the stress levels of 151 low-to-middle-income women who were between 12 and 24 weeks pregnant. The study was published in the journal Development and Psychopathology on Nov. 22, 2017.

The researchers followed the women throughout pregnancy and after delivery, and conducted a test to compare their reported stress levels during pregnancy with objective levels of stress in their 6-month-old offspring. In the test, the infants’ cardiac function was monitored while the mothers were instructed to look at the infant’s face but not interact with or touch them for two minutes following a brief play session.

The mothers reported the number of stressful life events they had experienced during pregnancy, which included illness, relationship problems, housing difficulties and legal issues. The babies of mothers with the highest number of these stressful life events – 22 of the 67 who completed the testing – were 22 percent more “reactive” than the 22 infants of mothers reporting the lowest number of stressful life events. They also recovered less quickly from the stressor, demonstrating lower resilience.

‘Reactivity’ Places Children at Risk

High reactivity, which is assessed by measuring the variability in the heart rate in conjunction with breathing, is indicative of a stronger decrease in parasympathetic nervous system activity in response to challenge, said first author Nicole Bush, PhD, of the UCSF departments of Psychiatry and Pediatrics, and UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences. The parasympathetic nervous system enables the body to rest and digest food, by slowing the heart rate and increasing intestinal and glandular activity.

“This isn’t automatically good or bad, but we know that being highly reactive places children at risk for a range of psychopathological problems, particularly anxiety and depression, as well as externalizing problems, such as disruptive behavior, especially if they experience adverse family and school environments.”

However, in an optimal environment with few adversities, children with higher stress reactivity “don’t have their stress response triggered too often and may exhibit better-than-average social skills and emotional and behavioral well-being, because greater reactivity can make them more sensitive to the benefits of positive relationships and experiences in their environments,” said Bush, who is also associate director of research at the UCSF Division of Developmental Medicine.

Additionally, questionnaires from the 151 mothers revealed that those in the top third, who had higher levels of perceived stress in pregnancy and post-delivery, had babies with temperamental “surgency” levels that were 8 percent lower than those babies of mothers in the lower third, who reported less perceived stress in pregnancy and post-delivery.

Surgency includes traits such as willingness to approach and engage with the outside world, as well as laughter and smiles. These same babies born to the highly-stressed mothers were also found to have 8 percent lower levels of self-regulation, the ability to manage emotions – such as soothing themselves in periods of high stress – compared with the babies of mothers with less perceived stress during pregnancy and post-delivery.

Healthy Families, Communities May Offset High Reactivity Impact

This combination of lower surgency and lower self-regulation can place individuals at added risk for depression, anxiety and difficulties with their social relationships, said Bush.

“At this point, we don’t know the lifelong impact of higher reactivity and lower surgency and self-regulation for these babies,” she said. “A lot will depend on other factors, such as families and communities. Providing healthy environments postnatally could buffer the negative impact of high reactivity and lower surgency and self-regulation.”


Explore further:
Now and Zen: Lower prenatal stress reduces risk of behavioral issues in kids

More information:
Nicole R. Bush et al. Effects of pre- and postnatal maternal stress on infant temperament and autonomic nervous system reactivity and regulation in a diverse, low-income population, Development and Psychopathology (2017). DOI: 10.1017/S0954579417001237

Journal reference:
Development and Psychopathology

Provided by:
University of California, San Francisco

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles