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Maternal postnatal depression predicts altered offspring biological stress reactivity in adulthood

Barry, TJ; Murray, L; Fearon, RMP; Moutsiana, C; Cooper, P; Goodyer, IM; Herbert, J; (2015) Maternal postnatal depression predicts altered offspring biological stress reactivity in adulthood. Psychoneuroendocrinology , 52 pp. 251-260. 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2014.12.003. Green open access

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Abstract

The offspring of depressed parents have been found to show elevated basal levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Whether heightened cortisol stress reactivity is also present in this group has yet to be clearly demonstrated. We tested whether postnatal maternal depression predicts subsequent increases in offspring biological sensitivity to social stress, as indexed by elevated cortisol reactivity. Participants (mean age 22.4-years) derived from a 22-year prospective longitudinal study of the offspring of mothers who had postnatal depression (PND group; n = 38) and a control group (n = 38). Salivary cortisol response to a social-evaluative threat (Trier Social Stress Test) was measured. Hierarchical linear modelling indicated that PND group offspring showed greater cortisol reactivity to the stress test than control group participants. Group differences were not explained by offspring depressive or anxiety symptoms, experiences of negative life events, elevated basal cortisol at age 13-years, subsequent exposure to maternal depression, or other key covariates. The findings indicate that the presence of early maternal depression can predict offspring biological sensitivity to social stress in adulthood, with potential implications for broader functioning.

Type: Article
Title: Maternal postnatal depression predicts altered offspring biological stress reactivity in adulthood
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2014.12.003
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2014.12.003
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/).
Keywords: Depression, Stress sensitivity, Cortisol, Maternal depression, Longitudinal, Hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10070320
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