To assess the risk of developing Type-1 diabetes among children who were exposed to maternal bereavement during the prenatal or 1-year preconception period.
We identified N = 1,548,746 singleton births born in Denmark between January 1st 1979 through December 31st 2004, and their next of kin. Altogether, 39,857 children were exposed to bereavement during their prenatal life. The main outcome of interest was hospitalization for type-1 diabetes (ICD 8: 249; ICD 10: E10).
We found the strongest association for type-1 diabetes among children exposed to traumatic father or sibling deaths (aIRR: 2.03, 1.22–3.38); the association was mainly seen for girls (aIRR: 2.91, 1.61–5.26).
We found evidence to suggest that female fetuses exposed to severe prenatal stress are at increased risk for developing type-1 diabetes.
It has been suggested that prenatal stress contributes to the risk of obesity later in life. In a population–based cohort study, we examined whether prenatal stress related to maternal bereavement during pregnancy was associated with the risk of overweight in offspring during school age.
We followed 65,212 children born in Denmark from 1970–1989 who underwent health examinations from 7 to 13 years of age in public or private schools in Copenhagen. We identified 459 children as exposed to prenatal stress, defined by being born to mothers who were bereaved by death of a close family member from one year before pregnancy until birth of the child. We compared the prevalence of overweight between the exposed and the unexposed. Body mass index (BMI) values and prevalence of overweight were higher in the exposed children, but not significantly so until from 10 years of age and onwards, as compared with the unexposed children. For example, the adjusted odds ratio (OR) for overweight was 1.68 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.08–2.61) at 12 years of age and 1.63 (95% CI 1.00–2.61) at 13 years of age. The highest ORs were observed when the death occurred in the period from 6 to 0 month before pregnancy (OR 3.31, 95% CI 1.71–6.42 at age 12, and OR 2.31, 95% CI 1.08–4.97 at age 13).
Our results suggest that severe pre-pregnancy stress is associated with an increased risk of overweight in the offspring in later childhood.
Prenatal factors such as prenatal psychological stress might influence the development of childhood asthma.
Methodology and Principal Findings
We assessed the association between maternal bereavement shortly before and during pregnancy, as a proxy for prenatal stress, and the risk of childhood asthma in the offspring, based on two samples of children 1–4 (n = 426 334) and 7–12 (n = 493 813) years assembled from the Swedish Medical Birth Register. Exposure was maternal bereavement of a close relative from one year before pregnancy to child birth. Asthma event was defined by a hospital contact for asthma or at least two dispenses of inhaled corticosteroids or montelukast. In the younger sample we calculated hazards ratios (HRs) of a first-ever asthma event using Cox models and in the older sample odds ratio (ORs) of an asthma attack during 12 months using logistic regression. Compared to unexposed boys, exposed boys seemed to have a weakly higher risk of first-ever asthma event at 1–4 years (HR: 1.09; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.98, 1.22) as well as an asthma attack during 12 months at 7–12 years (OR: 1.10; 95% CI: 0.96, 1.24). No association was suggested for girls. Boys exposed during the second trimester had a significantly higher risk of asthma event at 1–4 years (HR: 1.55; 95% CI: 1.19, 2.02) and asthma attack at 7–12 years if the bereavement was an older child (OR: 1.58; 95% CI: 1.11, 2.25). The associations tended to be stronger if the bereavement was due to a traumatic death compared to natural death, but the difference was not statistically significant.
Our results showed some evidence for a positive association between prenatal stress and childhood asthma among boys but not girls.
To examine whether prenatal exposure to parental type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, or gestational diabetes is associated with an increased risk of malignant neoplasm or diseases of the circulatory system in the offspring.
We conducted a population-based cohort study of 1,781,576 singletons born in Denmark from 1977 to 2008. Children were followed for up to 30 years from the day of birth until the onset of the outcomes under study, death, emigration, or December 31, 2009, whichever came first. We used Cox proportional hazards model to estimate hazard ratios (HR) with 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) for the outcomes under study while adjusting for potential confounders. An increased risk of malignant neoplasm was found in children prenatally exposed to maternal type 2 diabetes (HR = 2.2, 95%CI: 1.5–3.2). An increased risk of diseases of the circulatory system was found in children exposed to maternal type 1 diabetes (HR = 2.2, 95%CI: 1.6–3.0), type 2 diabetes (HR = 1.4, 95%CI: 1.1–1.7), and gestational diabetes (HR = 1.3, 95%CI: 1.1–1.6), but results were attenuated after excluding children with congenital malformations. An increased risk of diseases of the circulatory system was also found in children exposed to paternal type 2 diabetes (HR = 1.5, 95%CI: 1.1–2.2) and the elevated risk remained after excluding children with congenital malformations.
This study suggests that susceptibility to malignant neoplasm is modified partly by fetal programming. Diseases of the circulatory system may be modified by genetic factors, other time-stable family factors, or fetal programming.
We aimed to examine whether exposure to prenatal stress following maternal bereavement is associated with an increased risk of febrile seizures. In a longitudinal population-based cohort study, we followed 1,431,175 children born in Denmark. A total of 34,777 children were born to women who lost a close relative during pregnancy or within 1 year before the pregnancy and they were included in the exposed group. The exposed children had a risk of febrile seizures similar to that of the unexposed children (hazard ratio (HR) 1.00, 95% CI 0.94–1.06). The HRs did not differ according to the nature or timing of bereavement. Our data do not suggest any causal link between exposure to prenatal stress and febrile seizures in childhood.
Prenatal stress; Bereavement; Febrile seizures; Fetal programming; Longitudinal study
Recent research suggests that prenatal exposure to nonviral infection may be associated with increased risk of schizophrenia, and we hypothesized an association between maternal bacterial infection during pregnancy and elevated offspring risk of schizophrenia. Data on maternal infections from the Copenhagen Perinatal Cohort were linked with the Danish National Psychiatric Register. Offspring cases of narrowly defined schizophrenia (International Classification of Diseases, Eighth Revision [ICD-8]) and more broadly defined schizophrenia (ICD-8 and ICD-10) were identified before the ages of 32–34 and 45–47 years, respectively. The effect of prenatal exposure to bacterial infections was adjusted for prenatal exposure to analgesics and parental social status. In a risk set of 7941 individuals, 85 cases (1.1%) of ICD-8 schizophrenia were identified by the age of 32–34 years and 153 cases (1.9%) of more broadly defined schizophrenia by the age of 45–47 years. First-trimester exposure conferred an elevated risk of ICD-8 schizophrenia (odds ratio 2.53; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.07–5.96) and also of broadly defined schizophrenia (odds ratio 2.14; 95% CI 1.06–4.31). Second-trimester exposure also conferred a significantly elevated risk of schizophrenia but only in unadjusted analyses. These findings suggest a relationship between maternal bacterial infection in pregnancy and offspring risk of schizophrenia, and this effect was somewhat stronger for ICD-8 schizophrenia with earlier onset. Post hoc analyses showed that upper respiratory tract and gonococcal infections were associated with elevated risk of the disease. An association between risk of schizophrenia and prenatal exposure to bacterial infections might be mediated through transplacental passage of maternally produced cytokines in response to bacterial infections.
schizophrenia; bacterial infections; viral infections; prenatal infections
Maternal infection during pregnancy may be a risk factor for epilepsy in offspring. Use of antibiotics is a valid marker of infection.
To examine the relationship between maternal infection during pregnancy and risk of childhood epilepsy we conducted a historical cohort study of singletons born in northern Denmark from 1998 through 2008 who survived ≥29 days. We used population-based medical databases to ascertain maternal use of antibiotics or hospital contacts with infection during pregnancy, as well as first-time hospital contacts with a diagnosis of epilepsy among offspring. We compared incidence rates (IR) of epilepsy among children of mothers with and without infection during pregnancy. We examined the outcome according to trimester of exposure, type of antibiotic, and total number of prescriptions, using Poisson regression to estimate incidence rate ratios (IRRs) while adjusting for covariates. Among 191 383 children in the cohort, 948 (0.5%) were hospitalised or had an outpatient visit for epilepsy during follow-up, yielding an IR of 91 per 100 000 person-years (PY). The five-year cumulative incidence of epilepsy was 4.5 per 1000 children. Among children exposed prenatally to maternal infection, the IR was 117 per 100 000 PY, with an adjusted IRR of 1.40 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.22–1.61), compared with unexposed children. The association was unaffected by trimester of exposure, antibiotic type, or prescription count.
Prenatal exposure to maternal infection is associated with an increased risk of epilepsy in childhood. The similarity of estimates across types of antibiotics suggests that processes common to all infections underlie this outcome, rather than specific pathogens or drugs.
Prenatal maternal stress could have permanent effects on the offspring’s tissue structure and function, which may predispose to cardiovascular diseases. We investigated whether maternal psychosocial stress is a prenatal factor affecting the blood pressure (BP) of offspring.
In the Amsterdam Born Children and their Development (ABCD) study, around gestational week 16, depressive symptoms, state-anxiety, pregnancy-related anxiety, parenting daily hassles and job strain were recorded by questionnaire. A cumulative stress score was also calculated (based on 80th percentiles). Systolic and diastolic BP and mean arterial pressure (MAP) were measured in the offspring at age 5–7 years. Inclusion criteria were: no use of antihypertensive medication during pregnancy; singleton birth; no reported cardiovascular problems in the child (N = 2968 included).
After adjustment for confounders, the single stress scales were not associated with systolic and diastolic BP, MAP and hypertension (p>0.05). The presence of 3–4 psychosocial stressors prenatally (4%) was associated with 1.5 mmHg higher systolic and diastolic BP (p = 0.046; p = 0.04) and 1.5 mmHg higher MAP in the offspring (p = 0.02) compared to no stressors (46%). The presence of 3–4 stressors did not significantly increase the risk for hypertension (OR 1.8; 95% CI 0.93.4). Associations did not differ between sexes. Bonferroni correction for multiple testing rendered all associations non-significant.
The presence of multiple psychosocial stressors during pregnancy was associated with higher systolic and diastolic BP and MAP in the child at age 5–7. Further investigation of maternal prenatal stress may be valuable for later life cardiovascular health.
Maternal exposure to stress during pregnancy is associated with significant alterations in offspring neurodevelopment and elevated maternal glucocorticoids likely play a central role in mediating these effects. Placental 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 2 (HSD11B2) buffers the impact of maternal glucocorticoid exposure by converting cortisol/corticosterone into inactive metabolites. However, previous studies indicate that maternal adversity during the prenatal period can lead to a down-regulation of this enzyme. In the current study, we examined the impact of prenatal stress (chronic restraint stress during gestational days 14–20) in Long Evans rats on HSD11B2 mRNA in the placenta and fetal brain (E20) and assessed the role of epigenetic mechanisms in these stress-induced effects. In the placenta, prenatal stress was associated with a significant decrease in HSD11B2 mRNA, increased mRNA levels of the DNA methyltransferase DNMT3a, and increased DNA methylation at specific CpG sites within the HSD11B2 gene promoter. Within the fetal hypothalamus, though we find no stress-induced effects on HSD11B2 mRNA levels, prenatal stress induced decreased CpG methylation within the HSD11B2 promoter and increased methylation at sites within exon 1. Within the fetal cortex, HSD11B2 mRNA and DNA methylation levels were not altered by prenatal stress, though we did find stress-induced elevations in DNMT1 mRNA in this brain region. Within individuals, we identified CpG sites within the HSD11B2 gene promoter and exon 1 at which DNA methylation levels were highly correlated between the placenta and fetal cortex. Overall, our findings implicate DNA methylation as a mechanism by which prenatal stress alters HSD11B2 gene expression. These findings highlight the tissue specificity of epigenetic effects, but also raise the intriguing possibility of using the epigenetic status of placenta to predict corresponding changes in the brain.
Previous studies have indicated an increased risk of myocardial infarction (MI) in HIV infected individuals especially after start of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). It is however controversial whether the increased risk of atherosclerotic disease is exclusively associated with the HIV disease and HAART or whether life-style related or genetic factors also increase the risk in this population. To establish whether the increased risk of myocardial infarction in HIV patients partly reflects an increased risk of MI in their families, we estimated the relative risk of MI in parents of HIV-infected individuals.
From the Danish HIV Cohort Study and the Danish Civil Registration System we identified the parents of all HIV-infected patients born in Denmark after 1952 in whom a Danish born mother was identifiable. For each HIV patient, 4 matched population controls and their parents were identified. Cumulative incidence functions were constructed to illustrate time to first MI of the parents as registered in the Danish National Hospital Registry. Incidence rate ratios (IRR) were estimated by Cox's regression analyses. Due to the confidential type of the analysed data the study was approved by the Danish Data Protection Agency.
2,269 mothers and 2,022 fathers of HIV patients as well as 9,076 mothers and 8,460 fathers of control subjects were identified. We observed an increased risk of MI in mothers of HIV patients (adjusted IRR, 1.31; 95% CI: 1.08-1.60). The strongest association was seen in case the offspring was infected heterosexually (adjusted IRR, 1.59; 95% CI: 1.07-2.35) or by IV drug abuse (IVD) (adjusted IRR, 1.63; 95% CI: 1.02-2.60). In fathers of HIV patients the risk of MI was only increased if the offspring was infected by IVD (adjusted IRR, 1.42; 95% CI: 1.01-2.00).
Mothers of HIV-infected patients have an increased risk of MI. We presume that this stems from family related life style risk factors, some of which may also influence the risk of MI in HIV-infected patients.
Recent findings suggest that maternal iron deficiency may increase the risk of schizophrenia-spectrum disorder in offspring. We initiated this study to determine whether maternal prepartum anemia influences offspring risk of schizophrenia. We conducted a population-based study with individual record linkage of the Danish Civil Registration System, the Danish Psychiatric Central Register, and the Danish National Hospital Register. In a cohort of 1 115 752 Danish singleton births from 1978 to 1998, cohort members were considered as having a maternal history of anemia if the mother had received a diagnosis of anemia at any time during the pregnancy. Cohort members were followed from their 10th birthday until onset of schizophrenia, death, or December 31, 2008, whichever came first. Adjusted for relevant confounders, cohort members whose mothers had received a diagnosis of anemia during pregnancy had a 1.60-fold (95% confidence interval = 1.16–2.15) increased risk of schizophrenia. Although the underlying mechanisms are unknown and independent replication is needed, our findings suggest that maternal iron deficiency increases offspring risk of schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia; epidemiology; risk factor; Denmark; maternal iron deficiency; follow-up; cohort
Objective: To examine the association between a history of type 2 diabetes and birth weight of offspring and grandchildren.
Design: Prospective observational study. Diabetic status, as reported by mothers (F1 generation) was collected on grandparents (F0) of babies (F2) born to mothers (F1) who participated in a study of maternal and child health. Associations between risk of grandparental diabetes and birth weight in mothers (F1) and grandchildren (F2) were analysed using linear and logistic regression.
Setting: Avon: comprising of the city of Bristol and surrounding areas.
Participants: 12 076 singleton babies (F2), their parents (F1) and maternal and paternal grandparents (F0).
Results: Women (F1) who had no parents with type 2 diabetes had lower birth weights than women with one or two diabetic parents, after controlling for the age of both parents. There was a U shaped association between maternal birth weight and grandmaternal diabetes, but no evidence of an association with grandpaternal diabetes. The grandchildren of maternal grandparents with type 2 diabetes were more likely to be in the top tertile of birth weight than grandchildren of non-diabetics. There was evidence for an inverted U shaped association between birth weight of grandchildren and diabetes in paternal grandmothers.
Conclusions: This is the first study to show intergenerational associations between type 2 diabetes in one generation and birth weight in the subsequent two generations. While the study has limitations mainly because of missing data, the findings nevertheless provide some support for the role of developmental intrauterine effects and genetically determined insulin resistance in impaired insulin mediated growth in the fetus.
Experimental animal studies and one population-based study have suggested an increased risk for adverse neurodevelopmental outcome after prenatal exposure to SSRIs. We describe the methods and design of a population-based study examining the association between prenatal SSRI exposure and neurodevelopment until age 14.
Methods and design
This is a cohort study of national registers in Finland: the Medical Birth Register, the Register of Congenital Malformations, the Hospital Discharge Register including inpatient and outpatient data, the Drug Reimbursement Register, and the Population Register. The total study population includes 845,345 women and their live-born, singleton offspring aged 14 or younger and born during Jan 1st 1996-Dec 31st 2010. We will compare the prevalence of psychiatric and neurodevelopmental outcomes in offspring exposed prenatally to SSRIs to offspring exposed to prenatal depression and unexposed to SSRIs. Associations between exposure and outcome are assessed by statistical methods including specific modeling to account for correlated outcomes within families and differences in duration of follow-up between the exposure groups. Descriptive results. Of all pregnant women with pregnancy ending in delivery (n = 859,359), 1.9% used SSRIs. The prevalence of diagnosed depression and depression-related psychiatric disorders within one year before or during pregnancy was 1.7%. The cumulative incidence of registered psychiatric or neurodevelopmental disorders was 6.9% in 2010 among all offspring born during the study period (age range 0–14 years).
The study has the potential for significant public health importance in providing information on prenatal exposure to SSRIs and long-term neurodevelopment.
SSRI; Pregnancy; Neurodevelopment
There is much evidence to suggest that risk for common clinical disorders begins in foetal life. Exposure to environmental risk factors however is often not random. Many commonly used indices of prenatal adversity (e.g. maternal gestational stress, gestational diabetes, smoking in pregnancy) are influenced by maternal genes and genetically influenced maternal behaviour. As mother provides the baby with both genes and prenatal environment, associations between prenatal risk factors and offspring disease maybe attributable to true prenatal risk effects or to the "confounding" effects of genetic liability that are shared by mother and offspring. Cross-fostering designs, including those that involve embryo transfer have proved useful in animal studies. However disentangling these effects in humans poses significant problems for traditional genetic epidemiological research designs.
We present a novel research strategy aimed at disentangling maternally provided pre-natal environmental and inherited genetic effects. Families of children aged 5 to 9 years born by assisted reproductive technologies, specifically homologous IVF, sperm donation, egg donation, embryo donation and gestational surrogacy were contacted through fertility clinics and mailed a package of questionnaires on health and mental health related risk factors and outcomes. Further data were obtained from antenatal records.
To date 741 families from 18 fertility clinics have participated. The degree of association between maternally provided prenatal risk factor and child outcome in the group of families where the woman undergoing pregnancy and offspring are genetically related (homologous IVF, sperm donation) is compared to association in the group where offspring are genetically unrelated to the woman who undergoes the pregnancy (egg donation, embryo donation, surrogacy). These comparisons can be then examined to infer the extent to which prenatal effects are genetically and environmentally mediated.
A study based on children born by IVF treatment and who differ in genetic relatedness to the woman undergoing the pregnancy is feasible. The present report outlines a novel experimental method that permits disaggregation of maternally provided inherited genetic and post-implantation prenatal effects.
To identify the impact of timing of prenatal stress exposure on offspring risk for shortened gestational age (GA), preterm birth (PTB), low birth weight (LBW), and small for gestational age (SGA) using a population-based sample.
Swedish longitudinal population registries were linked to study all individuals born in Sweden 1973–2004. Prenatal maternal stress exposure was defined as death of the father of the child or first degree relative of the mother. Using linear and logistic regression, timing of stress exposure was examined across pregnancy, by month, and by novel periods created based on month of stress exposure findings.
A total of 2,618,777 live-born, singleton infants without congenital anomalies were included; 32,286 exposed to prenatal maternal stress. Examining associations between stress exposure and outcome by the month revealed that risk increases mid-gestation, particularly following months 5 and 6. Combining months 1–4, 5 and 6, and 7–9 as potential periods of differing vulnerability, it was found that stress during period 2 (months 5 and 6) was associated with the greatest risk for shortened GA (−0.52 days, SE=0.15, p=0.0006), PTB (OR=1.24, 99% CI=1.08–1.42), LBW (OR=1.38, 99% CI=1.19–1.61), and SGA (OR=1.25, 99% CI=1.05–1.49).
Risk for shortened GA, PTB, LBW, and SGA are greater following stress exposure during the 5th and/or 6th month of pregnancy. It may be beneficial to refine future analyses to these months. Possible mechanisms include alterations in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and associated stress-responsive molecular regulators.
Stress; pregnancy; timing; preterm birth; low birth weight; small for gestational age
Exposure to prenatal stress is associated with later adverse health and adjustment outcomes. This is generally presumed to arise through early environmentally mediated programming effects on the foetus. However, associations could arise through factors that influence mothers' characteristics and behaviour during pregnancy which are inherited by offspring.
A ‘prenatal cross-fostering’ design where pregnant mothers are related or unrelated to their child as a result of in vitro fertilization (IVF) was used to disentangle maternally inherited and environmental influences. If links between prenatal stress and offspring outcome are environmental, association should be observed in unrelated as well as related mother–child pairs. Offspring birth weight and gestational age as well as mental health were the outcomes assessed.
Associations between prenatal stress and offspring birth weight, gestational age and antisocial behaviour were seen in both related and unrelated mother–offspring pairs, consistent with there being environmental links. The association between prenatal stress and offspring anxiety in related and unrelated groups appeared to be due to current maternal anxiety/depression rather than prenatal stress. In contrast, the link between prenatal stress and offspring attention deficit hyperactivity disorder was only present in related mother–offspring pairs and therefore was attributable to inherited factors.
Genetically informative designs can be helpful in testing whether inherited factors contribute to the association between environmental risk factors and health outcomes. These results suggest that associations between prenatal stress and offspring outcomes could arise from inherited factors and post-natal environmental factors in addition to causal prenatal risk effects.
ADHD; anxiety; birth weight; child; conduct
To investigate how loss of a spouse affects mortality risk in the bereaved partner.
Design and setting
Prospective cohort study in Renfrew and Paisley in Scotland.
4395 married couples aged 45–64 years when the study was carried out between 1972 and 1976.
The date of bereavement for the bereaved spouse was the date of death of his or her spouse. Bereavement could occur at any time during the follow‐up period, so it was considered as a time‐dependent exposure variable and the Cox proportional hazards model for time‐dependent variables was used. The relative rate (RR) of mortality was calculated for bereaved versus non‐bereaved spouses and adjusted for confounding variables.
Main outcome measures
Causes of death to 31 March 2004.
Bereaved participants were at higher risk than non‐bereaved participants of dying from any cause (RR 1.27; 95% CI 1.2 to 1.35). These risks remained but were attenuated after adjustment for confounding variables. There were raised RRs for bereaved participants dying of cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, stroke, all cancer, lung cancer, smoking‐related cancer, and accidents or violence. After adjustment for confounding variables, RRs remained higher for bereaved participants for all these causes except for mortality from lung cancer. There was no strong statistical evidence that the increased risks of death associated with bereavement changed with time after bereavement.
Conjugal bereavement, in addition to existing risk factors, is related to mortality risk for major causes of death.
This paper provides a short overview of the Danish health care system and the organization of care for type 2 diabetes patients in Denmark. It also describes the supplementary data sources that are used for collection of baseline data in the nationwide Danish Centre for Strategic Research in Type 2 Diabetes (DD2) Project. The Danish National Health Service provides tax-funded medical care for all 5.6 million Danish residents. The health care system is characterized by extensive individual-level registration of data used for planning, administration, quality improvement, and research. It is estimated that there are currently at least 250,000 individuals with known diabetes in Denmark (approximately 4.5% of the Danish population), of which an estimated 80% are followed and treated by their general practitioners and approximately 20% are followed at hospital specialist outpatient clinics. These health care providers form the basis for recruiting diabetes patients in the DD2 project, and the data sources that these providers use in clinical practice give access to important supplementary patient data. The DD2’s patient-enrollment system is designed to be fast and simple, and thus only collects primary interview data that cannot be extracted from already existing data sources. Thus, in addition to an online DD2 questionnaire filled out by general practitioners and hospital physicians at the time of patient enrollment, supplementary data are obtained from the Danish Diabetes Database for Adults, a nationwide clinical quality improvement registry. Both hospital physicians and a growing number of general practitioners routinely report data to this database. For general practitioners, the Danish General Practice Database acts as an important feeder database for the Danish Diabetes Database for Adults and thereby also for the DD2 project.
type 2 diabetes; data sources; epidemiology; health care; Danish Diabetes Database for Adults (DDDA); Danish General Practice Database (Dansk AlmenMedicinsk Database [DAMD])
Background. Maternal distress during pregnancy increases the intrauterine level of glucocorticoids, which may have long-term health consequences for the child.
Objective. To examine if distress as a combined measure of anxiety, depression, and stress of the mother during pregnancy was associated with offspring childhood overweight at age 7.
Methods. We performed a cohort study using prospective data from 37,764 women and child dyads from the Danish National Birth Cohort (1996–2002). At a telephone interview at approximately 30 weeks gestation, the women reported whether they felt anxious, depressed, or stressed. The 95 percentile for body mass index in an international reference defined childhood overweight at any given age. Logistic regression was used for the analyses. Results. The prevalence of overweight children at 7 years of age was 9.9%. Prenatal exposure to maternal distress during pregnancy was not associated with childhood overweight at 7 years of age (adjusted OR 1.06 (95% CI 0.96; 1.18)). In analyses stratified on sex, a small tendency of overweight was seen in boys (OR 1.15 (0.99; 1.33)), but not in girls (OR 0.98 (0.85; 1.13)). Conclusions. Maternal distress during pregnancy appeared to have limited, if any, influence on the risk of overweight in offspring at 7 years of age.
Maternal stress in early life has been associated with the development of asthma in children, although it is unclear whether there are any critical periods of exposure. The association of asthma with prenatal exposure to maternal stress has not been reported.
We tested whether prenatal and postnatal anxiety and/or depression in pregnant women predicted the risk of their offspring developing asthma in childhood.
The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children is a population-based birth cohort recruited during pregnancy. Data were available on maternal anxiety scores and asthma at age 7½ years in 5810 children. Anxiety was assessed at 18 and 32 weeks of gestation by using the validated Crown-Crisp Experiential Index. Asthma was defined at age 7½ years as doctor-diagnosed asthma with current symptoms or treatment in the previous 12 months. Multivariable logistic regression was used to determine the association of prenatal anxiety with asthma (odds ratio; 95% CI).
Independent of postnatal anxiety and adjusted for a number of likely confounders, there was a higher likelihood of asthma at age 7½ years (odds ratio, 1.64; 95% CI, 1.25-2.17) in children of mothers in the highest compared with lowest quartile of anxiety scores at 32 weeks of gestation, with evidence for a dose-response (P value for trend <0.001).
Maternal anxiety symptoms as an indicator of stress during fetal life may program the development of asthma during childhood.
Anxiety; pregnancy; prenatal programming; asthma; child; ALSPAC, Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children; HPA, Hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal; OR, Odds ratio
While the etiology of most childhood cancers is largely unknown, epidemiologic studies have consistently found an association between exposure to medical radiation during pregnancy and risk of childhood cancer in offspring. The relation between early life diagnostic radiation exposure and occurrence of pediatric cancer risks is less clear. This review summarizes current and historical estimated doses for common diagnostic radiologic procedures as well as the epidemiologic literature on the role of maternal prenatal, children’s postnatal and parental preconception diagnostic radiologic procedures on subsequent risk of childhood malignancies Risk estimates are presented according to factors such as the year of birth of the child, trimester and medical indication for the procedure, and the number of films taken. The paper also discusses limitations of the methods employed in epidemiologic studies to assess pediatric cancer risks, the effects on clinical practice of the results reported from the epidemiologic studies, and clinical and public health policy implications of the findings. Gaps in understanding and additional research needs are identified. Important research priorities include nationwide surveys to estimate fetal and childhood radiation doses from common diagnostic procedures, and epidemiologic studies to quantify pediatric and lifetime cancer risks from prenatal and early childhood exposures to diagnostic radiography, computed tomography, and fluoroscopically-guided procedures.
ionizing radiation; pediatric neoplasms; cancer risks; diagnostic radiography; CT
Neurodevelopmental changes induced by environmental stress exposure play a significant but poorly defined role in the etiology of schizophrenia. Exposure of pregnant female rats to a series of unpredictable stresses during the final week of pregnancy generates behavioral deficits and molecular changes in the offspring similar to those observed in schizophrenic individuals. We used this rat prenatal stress preparation to investigate social withdrawal behaviors that may have relevance to the negative symptoms of schizophrenia. The cumulative time adult male offspring of stress-exposed pregnant female rats actively interacted with a weight-matched, same-sex peer was decreased approximately 76% relative to non-stress exposed control rats. Prenatal stress exposure also diminished the quality of the social interaction behavior indicative of reduced social drive. Analysis of the oxytocinergic system in the prenatally stressed male rats revealed significantly less oxytocin mRNA in the paraventricular nucleus and increased oxytocin receptor binding in the central amygdala. Moreover, oxytocin, but not vasopressin, administration into the central amygdala reversed the social incompetence of the prenatally stressed rats without increasing behavior in non-stressed control animals. In addition, cross-fostering pups from prenatally stressed mothers to non-stressed mothers failed to improve the social deficit of the prenatally stressed male offspring. Two behavioral assays designed to measure anxiety did not differentiate the prenatally stressed rats from non-stressed controls. These data indicate that prenatal stress may be an etiologically appropriate animal model for some aspects of schizophrenic social withdrawal. Furthermore, unpredictable prenatal stress exposure selectively degrades social interaction behaviors without increasing anxiety measures.
oxytocin; amygdala; rats; hypothalamus; social interaction; schizophrenia; prenatal stress
Topoisomerase II is a DNA-processing enzyme, and secondary acute myeloid leukemia has been associated with exposure to drugs that inhibit its action. Hence, prenatal exposure to chemicals that inhibit topoisomerase II could plausibly contribute to the incidence of childhood leukemia. The NAD(P)H:quinone oxidoreductase 1 (NQO1) enzyme is involved in the metabolism of topoisomerase II-inhibiting chemicals. A functional polymorphism (C609T) associated with reduced activity has been identified on the NQO1 gene. To assess its role in the etiology of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the authors studied transmission of the variant T allele in the families (parents and grandparents) of 657 affected children in Québec, Canada (1980–2000). Log-linear models that stratified on parental or grandparental mating types were used. Prenatal exposure to potential topoisomerase II inhibitors such as benzene and maternal smoking was studied, as well as interactions between the variant and these exposures. The variant allele was transmitted to cases more frequently than expected (for one or two copies of the allele vs. none, relative risk = 1.39, 95% confidence interval: 1.07, 1.79). There was no evidence of a maternally mediated genetic effect on risk, based on a log-linear assessment of genetic symmetry between mothers and fathers, nor was there evidence of interaction between the studied maternal exposures and the child or maternal variant.
association; child; infant; leukemia; linkage (genetics); models; genetic; NAD(P)H dehydrogenase (quinone); polymorphism; genetic
The birth of neurons, their migration to appropriate positions in the brain, and their establishment of the proper synaptic contacts happen predominately during the prenatal period. Environmental stressors during gestation can exert a major impact on brain development and thereby contribute to the pathogenesis of neuropsychiatric illnesses, such as depression and psychotic disorders including schizophrenia.
The objectives here are to present recent preclinical studies of the impact of prenatal exposure to gestational stressors on the developing fetal brain and discuss their relevance to the neurobiological basis of mental illness. The focus is on maternal immune activation, psychological stresses, and malnutrition, due to the abundant clinical literature supporting their role in the etiology of neuropsychiatric illnesses.
Prenatal maternal immune activation, viral infection, unpredictable psychological stress, and malnutrition all appear to foster the development of behavioral abnormalities in exposed offspring that may be relevant to the symptom domains of schizophrenia and psychosis, including sensorimotor gating, information processing, cognition, social function, and subcortical hyperdopaminergia. Depression-related phenotypes, such as learned helplessness or anxiety, are also observed in some model systems. These changes appear to be mediated by the presence of proinflammatory cytokines and/or corticosteroids in the fetal compartment that alter the development the neuroanatomical substrates involved in these behaviors.
Prenatal exposure to environmental stressors alters the trajectory of brain development and can be used to generate animal preparations that may be informative in understanding the pathophysiological processes involved in several human neuropsychiatric disorders.
Prenatal stress; Prenatal immune activation; Prenatal protein malnutrition; Prenatal viral infection; Schizophrenia; Psychosis; Depression; Anxiety; Brain
Maternal exposure to wood fuel smoke may lead to impaired fetal growth due to hypoxia and or oxidative stress from smoke constituents such as carbon monoxide and particulate matter.
We studied the risk of low birth weight (LBW) and reduced mean birth weight in relation to reported use of wood for cooking during the prenatal period, compared with natural gas (NG).
We studied a historical cohort of women who had a singleton live birth in the years 2000–2002, from a semirural area of Pakistan. Infant’s birth weight was obtained from records, and prenatal records had data for maternal body mass index and parity. Cooking habits, daytime sleep habits, and type of fuel used during the pregnancies in 2000–2002 were ascertained by a survey done in 2004–2005. We performed multiple linear and logistic regression modeling using propensity scores to adjust for confounding variables.
Unadjusted mean (± SD) birth weight was 2.78 ± 0.45 kg in wood users, and 2.84 ± 0.43 kg (p < 0.06) in NG users. Infants born to wood users averaged 82 g lighter than infants born to NG users when weight was adjusted for confounders (p < 0.07). The rate of LBW (< 2,500 g) was 22.7% among wood users compared with 15.0% in NG users (p < 0.01), for an adjusted relative risk of 1.64 (95% confidence interval, 1.10–2.34). The population attributable risk for LBW explained by wood use was estimated to be 24%.
Cooking with wood fuel during pregnancy, a potentially modifiable exposure, was associated with LBW and marginally lower mean birth weight compared with using NG.
birth weight; cooking habits; historical cohort; natural gas; pregnancy; propensity scores