Conflict of interest statement: Dr Newport has received research support from Eli Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Janssen, and Wyeth as well as NARSAD and NIH, and speaker’s honoraria from Astra-Zeneca, Eli Lilly, GSK, and Pfizer. Dr Stowe has received research support from GSK, NIH, and Wyeth, served on advisory boards for Wyeth, BMS and GSK, and received speaker’s honoraria from Eli Lilly, GSK, Pfizer, and Wyeth. All of the remaining authors have no current financial ties to for-profit enterprises.
Maternal depression and infant cortisol: influences of timing, comorbidity and treatment
Version of Record online: 19 MAY 2008
© 2008 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2008 Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health
Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Volume 49, Issue 10, pages 1099–1107, October 2008
How to Cite
Brennan, P. A., Pargas, R., Walker, E. F., Green, P., Jeffrey Newport, D. and Stowe, Z. (2008), Maternal depression and infant cortisol: influences of timing, comorbidity and treatment. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 49: 1099–1107. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2008.01914.x
- Issue online: 13 OCT 2008
- Version of Record online: 19 MAY 2008
- Manuscript accepted 18 February 2008
Background: The current study examines the relationship between maternal depression and infant cortisol concentrations. The potential roles of comorbid maternal anxiety disorders, timing of maternal depression, and maternal treatment with psychotropic medications during pregnancy are addressed.
Methods: Women with 6-month-old infants (105 boys and 84 girls) participated in a laboratory paradigm that included infant saliva collection at six points, noise burst and arm restraint stressor tasks, and a diagnostic interview of the mother.
Results: Lifetime history of maternal depression was associated with increased baseline and mean (average) infant cortisol levels. Comorbidity with anxiety disorder was related to infant cortisol reactivity. Peripartum (prepartum and/or postpartum) maternal depression, rather than a pre-pregnancy history of disorder, was associated with higher infant cortisol reactivity. Prenatal and postnatal exposure to maternal disorder had similar effects, but prenatal maternal psychotropic medication treatment appeared to attenuate infant cortisol increases associated with prenatal maternal disorder exposure.
Conclusions: These data suggest that exposure to maternal depression and anxiety during pregnancy and the postpartum period may increase infant salivary cortisol. This maternal depression–infant cortisol association is independent of the effects of delivery complications, and appears to be modulated by prenatal maternal psychotropic treatment.