Maternal Cortisol Levels May Affect Infant Psychological Health


Researcher from Cardiff and the Netherlands find, in a prospective, longitudinal study of 158 women undergoing amniocentesis, “one of the few studies to simultaneously assess the role of maternal and and amniotic fluid cortisol on birth outcomes and infant emotional development,” that maternal cortisol was related to amniotic cortisol, which in turn was associated with lower birth weight as well as infant fear and distress. The authors suggest that “foetal cortisol may be an important predictor of infant outcomes and shed light on the mechanisms through with prenatal maternal stress affects infant psychological health.”

Abstract → Baibazarova, E., van de Beek, C., et al; Influence of prenatal maternal stress, maternal plasma cortisol and cortisol in the amniotic fluid on birth outcomes and child temperament at 3 months. Psychoneuroendocrinology. Online October 7, 2012

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].