Children's stress regulation mediates the association between prenatal maternal mood and child executive functions for boys, but not girls

  title={Children's stress regulation mediates the association between prenatal maternal mood and child executive functions for boys, but not girls},
  author={Regula Neuenschwander and Kaia Vivian Hookenson and Ursula Brain and Ruth Eckstein Grunau and Angela M. Devlin and Joanne Weinberg and Adele Diamond and Tim F. Oberlander},
  journal={Development and Psychopathology},
  pages={953 - 969}
Abstract Prenatal exposure to maternal mood disturbances shapes children's cognitive development reflected in the critical construct of executive functions (EFs). Little is known, however, about underlying mechanisms. By examining cortisol responses in both everyday and lab challenge settings, we tested whether the child/offspring hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis mediates effects of prenatal maternal mood on child EFs at age 6. In 107 Canadian children born to women with a wide range of… 

Emotional Stress During Pregnancy – Associations With Maternal Anxiety Disorders, Infant Cortisol Reactivity, and Mother–Child Interaction at Pre-school Age

Even though maternal stress during pregnancy did not directly predict mother–child interaction quality at pre-school age, it was significantly correlated with infant cortisol reactivity during postpartum period, and caution should be taken when interpreting the results considering the small sample size.

Neuroendocrine and autonomic stress systems activity in young adults raised by mothers with mental health and substance abuse problems: A prospective cohort study.

Examination of the activity of offspring's neuroendocrine and autonomic systems when exposed to a mild psychological stressor provides evidence that negative parenting may have long-lasting effects on stress-sensitive physiological mechanisms.

A Developmental Cascade from Prenatal Stress to Child Internalizing and Externalizing Problems.

Results provide support for the fetal programming, interpersonal stress transmission, and continuation of stress models and highlight the need for prenatal preventative programs that continue into the early postnatal period, targeting maternal stress and parenting behaviors.

Prenatal mother-father cortisol linkage predicts infant executive functions at 24 months.

Ass associations between prenatal mother-father cortisol linkage and infant executive functions suggest that prenatal linkage of mother's and father's stress physiology plays a potentially important part in programming and regulating infant neurocognitive development.

Intergenerational Transmission of Effects of Women's Stressors During Pregnancy: Child Psychopathology and the Protective Role of Parenting

Objective Experiences of stress and adversity, such as intimate partner violence, confer risk for psychiatric problems across the life span. The effects of these risks are disproportionately borne by

Parenting as a Mediator of Associations between Depression in Mothers and Children’s Functioning: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Empirical support for parenting (both positive and negative) as a mediator of associations between mothers' depression and a broad range of child functioning is provided and interventions should target samples that represent the population in terms of poverty and ethnicity and children's gender.


To review the literature of relationship between prenatal stress and child development, a review of the 12 identified papers that explained prenatal stress is performed to address the following questions.

Neuroendocrine and immune pathways from pre- and perinatal stress to substance abuse



Maternal depression and infant cortisol: influences of timing, comorbidity and treatment.

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

Prenatal stress and its effects on the fetus and the child: possible underlying biological mechanisms.

  • V. Glover
  • Biology, Psychology
    Advances in neurobiology
  • 2015
Many prospective studies have shown that if a mother is depressed, anxious or stressed while pregnant, this increases the risk for her child having a wide range of adverse outcomes including

Higher cortisol is associated with poorer executive functioning in preschool children: The role of parenting stress, parent coping and quality of daycare

  • S. WagnerI. Cepeda R. Grunau
  • Psychology
    Child neuropsychology : a journal on normal and abnormal development in childhood and adolescence
  • 2016
It was found that children with poorer executive functioning had higher levels of salivary cortisol, and their parents reported higher parenting stress, however, parent coping style and quality of daycare did not modulate these relationships.

Associations between maternal prenatal cortisol concentrations and child outcomes: A systematic review

Maternal prenatal stress and cortisol reactivity to stressors in human infants

Maternal prenatal fear of bearing a handicapped child was a consistent predictor of infant cortisol reactivity and this specific anxiety was a better predictor than stress experience or maternal cortisol concentrations, but the underlying mechanisms of these associations remain unclear.

Antenatal maternal stress and long-term effects on child neurodevelopment: how and why?

It is suggested that extra vigilance or anxiety, readily distracted attention, or a hyper-responsive HPA axis may have been adaptive in a stressful environment during evolution, but exists today at the cost of vulnerability to neurodevelopmental disorders.

ADHD Deficit as Measured in Adolescent Boys with a Continuous Performance Task Is Related to Antenatal Maternal Anxiety

Results showed that the CPT performance of boys of mothers with high levels of state anxiety during the 12th to 22nd postmenstrual week of pregnancy declined as the task progressed: their processing speed became slower and the variability in their reaction times increased.