Psychological distress and salivary cortisol covary within persons during pregnancy
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AbstractThe mechanisms whereby maternal stress during pregnancy exerts organizational effects on fetal development require elaboration. The aim of this study was to assess the plausibility of cortisol as a biological link between maternal psychological distress during pregnancy and fetal development. Previous research has resulted in equivocal findings for between-persons differences in stress and cortisol. Ecological Momentary Assessment was used to simultaneously assess mood and cortisol 5 times daily for 3 days in 83 women (gestational ages 6 - 37 weeks). Results from multilevel analysis indicated a robust within-person association between negative mood and cortisol. For each 1.0% increase in negative mood there was a corresponding 1.9% increase in cortisol. This association was unaffected by advancing gestational age. The results suggest that cortisol is a plausible biological mechanism for transducing the effects of maternal psychological distress during pregnancy to fetal development.
SponsorshipAlberta Innovates-Health Solutions; Alberta Children's Hospital Research Institute
Author's accepted manuscript deposited according to Elsevier sharing policies http://www.elsevier.com/about/company-information/policies/policy-faq September 23, 2015.