Maternal prenatal anxiety, postnatal caregiving and infants' cortisol responses to the still-face procedure

Kerry Ann Grant*, Catherine McMahon, Marie Paule Austin, Nicole Reilly, Leo Leader, Sinan Ali

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

77 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This study prospectively examined the separate and combined influences of maternal prenatal anxiety disorder and postnatal caregiving sensitivity on infants' salivary cortisol responses to the still-face procedure. Effects were assessed by measuring infant salivary cortisol upon arrival at the laboratory, and at 15-, 25-, and 40-min following the still-face procedure. Maternal symptoms of anxiety during the last 6 months of pregnancy were assessed using clinical diagnostic interview. Data analyses using linear mixed models were based on 88 women and their 7-month-old infants. Prenatal anxiety and maternal sensitivity emerged as independent, additive moderators of infant cortisol reactivity, F (3, 180)=3.29, p=.02, F (3, 179)=2.68, p=.05 respectively. Results were independent of maternal prenatal depression symptoms, and postnatal symptoms of anxiety and depression. Infants' stress-induced cortisol secretion patterns appear to relate not only to exposure to maternal prenatal anxiety, but also to maternal caregiving sensitivity, irrespective of prenatal psychological state.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)625-637
Number of pages13
JournalDevelopmental Psychobiology
Volume51
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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