The association of maternal prenatal psychosocial stress with vascular function in the child at age 10-11 years: findings from the Avon longitudinal study of parents and children

A.E. Van Dijk, K. Dawe, J. Deanfield, K. Stronks, R.J.B.J. Gemke, T.G.M. Vrijkotte, D.A. Lawlor

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To investigate whether (1) maternal psychosocial stress (depression/anxiety) during pregnancy is associated with offspring vascular function and (2) whether any association differs depending on the gestational timing of exposure to stress. We also investigated whether any association is likely to be due to intrauterine mechanisms by (3) comparing with the association of paternal stress with offspring vascular function and (4) examining whether any prenatal association is explained by maternal postnatal stress. Associations were examined in a UK birth cohort, with offspring outcomes (systolic and diastolic blood pressure, SBP and DBP, endothelial function assessed by brachial artery flow-mediated dilatation (FMD); arterial stiffness assessed by carotid to radial pulse wave velocity (PWV), brachial artery distensibility (DC), and brachial artery diameter (BD) assessed at age 10-11 years (n = 4,318). Maternal depressive symptoms and anxiety were assessed at 18 and 32 weeks gestation and 8 months postnatally. Paternal symptoms were assessed at week 19. With the exception of DBP and BD, there were no associations of maternal depressive symptoms with any of the vascular outcomes. Maternal depressive and anxiety symptoms were associated with lower offspring DBP and wider BD, though the latter attenuated to the null with adjustment for confounding factors. Paternal symptoms were not associated with offspring outcomes. Maternal postnatal depressive symptoms were associated with lower offspring SBP. We found no evidence to support the hypothesis that maternal stress during pregnancy adversely affects offspring vascular function at age 10-12 years via intrauterine mechanisms
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1097-1108
JournalEuropean journal of preventive cardiology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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