Skip to main content Accessibility help

Maternal psychological distress during pregnancy and childhood health outcomes: a narrative review

  • F. O. L. Vehmeijer (a1) (a2) (a3), M. Guxens (a4) (a5) (a6) (a7), L. Duijts (a1) (a8) (a9) and H. El Marroun (a1) (a7)


Maternal psychological distress is common in pregnancy and may influence the risk of adverse outcomes in children. Psychological distress may cause a suboptimal intrauterine environment leading to growth and developmental adaptations of the fetus and child. In this narrative review, we examined the influence of maternal psychological distress during pregnancy on fetal outcomes and child cardiometabolic, respiratory, atopic and neurodevelopment-related health outcomes. We discussed these findings from an epidemiological and life course perspective and provided recommendations for future studies. The literature in the field of maternal psychological distress and child health outcomes is extensive and shows that exposure to stress during pregnancy is associated with multiple adverse child health outcomes. Because maternal psychological distress is an important and potential modifiable factor during pregnancy, it should be a target for prevention strategies in order to optimize fetal and child health. Future studies should use innovative designs and strategies in order to address the issue of causality.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Dr H. El Marroun, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Erasmus MC – Sophia Children’s Hospital, P.O. Box 2060, 3000 CB Rotterdam, The Netherlands. E-mail:


Hide All
1. Gavin, NI, Gaynes, BN, Lohr, KN, et al. Perinatal depression: a systematic review of prevalence and incidence. Obstet Gynecol. 2005; 106(5 Pt 1), 10711083.
2. Marcus, SM. Depression during pregnancy: rates, risks and consequences – Motherisk Update 2008. Can J Clin Pharmacol. 2009; 16, e15e22.
3. Ross, LE, McLean, LM. Anxiety disorders during pregnancy and the postpartum period: a systematic review. J Clin Psychiatry. 2006; 67, 12851298.
4. Melville, JL, Gavin, A, Guo, Y, Fan, M-Y, Katon, WJ. Depressive disorders during pregnancy: prevalence and risk factors in a large urban sample. Obstet Gynecol. 2010; 116, 10641070.
5. Woods, SM, Melville, JL, Guo, Y, Fan, M-Y, Gavin, A. Psychosocial stress during pregnancy. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2010; 202, 61.e161.e7.
6. Skodol, AE, Shrout, PE. Use of DSM-III axis IV in clinical practice: rating the severity of psychosocial stressors. Psychiatry Res. 1989; 30, 201211.
7. Goodkin, K, Baldewicz, TT, Blaney, NT, et al. Physiological effects of bereavement and bereavement support group interventions. In Handbook of Bereavement Research: Consequences, Coping, and Care (eds. Stroebe MS, Hansson RO, Stroebe W, Schut H), 2001; pp. 671–703. American Psychological Association: Washington, DC.
8. Ruiz, RJ, Fullerton, JT. The measurement of stress in pregnancy. Nurs Health Sci. 1999; 1, 1925.
9. Lancaster, CA, Gold, KJ, Flynn, HA, et al. Risk factors for depressive symptoms during pregnancy: a systematic review. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2010; 202, 514.
10. Entringer, S, Buss, C, Swanson, JM, et al. Fetal programming of body composition, obesity, and metabolic function: the role of intrauterine stress and stress biology. J Nutr Metab. 2012; 2012, 632548.
11. Gluckman, PD. Living with the past: evolution, development, and patterns of disease. Science. 2004; 305, 17331736.
12. Gluckman, PD, Hanson, MA, Cooper, C, Thornburg, KL. Effect of in utero and early-life conditions on adult health and disease. N Engl J Med. 2008; 359, 6173.
13. Barker, DJP. In utero programming of chronic disease. Clin Sci. 1998; 95, 115128.
14. Barker, DJP, Godfrey, KM. Fetal nutrition and cardiovascular disease in adult life. In Nutritional Health. Nutrition ◊ and ◊ Health (eds. Wilson T, Temple NJ), 2001; pp. 253268. Humana Press: Totowa, NJ.
15. Gentile, S. Untreated depression during pregnancy: short- and long-term effects in offspring. A systematic review. Neuroscience. 2017; 342, 154166.
16. Alder, J, Fink, N, Bitzer, J, Hösli, I, Holzgreve, W. Depression and anxiety during pregnancy: a risk factor for obstetric, fetal and neonatal outcome? A critical review of the literature. J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2007; 20, 189209.
17. Barker, DJ. The fetal and infant origins of adult disease. BMJ. 1990; 301, 1111.
18. Entringer, S, Buss, C, Wadhwa, PD. Prenatal stress and developmental programming of human health and disease risk: concepts and integration of empirical findings. Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes. 2010; 17, 507516.
19. Glover, V. Prenatal stress and its effects on the fetus and the child: possible underlying biological mechanisms. In Perinatal Programming of Neurodevelopment. Advances in Neurobiology. (ed. Antonelli M), 2015. Springer: New York, NY.
20. Edwards, CR, Benediktsson, R, Lindsay, RS, Seckl, JR. Dysfunction of placental glucocorticoid barrier: link between fetal environment and adult hypertension? Lancet. 1993; 341, 355357.
21. Popova, S, Lange, S, Probst, C, Gmel, G, Rehm, J. Estimation of national, regional, and global prevalence of alcohol use during pregnancy and fetal alcohol syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet Glob Health. 2017; 5, e290e299.
22. Håberg, SE, Stigum, H, Nystad, W, Nafstad, P. Effects of pre- and postnatal exposure to parental smoking on early childhood respiratory health. Am J Epidemiol. 2007; 166, 679686.
23. Rich-Edwards, JW. Sociodemographic predictors of antenatal and postpartum depressive symptoms among women in a medical group practice. J Epidemiol Community Health. 2006; 60, 221227.
24. Lindsay, KL, Buss, C, Wadhwa, PD, Entringer, S. The interplay between maternal nutrition and stress during pregnancy: issues and considerations. Ann Nutr Metab. 2017; 70, 191200.
25. Monk, C, Georgieff, MK, Osterholm, EA. Research review: maternal prenatal distress and poor nutrition – mutually influencing risk factors affecting infant neurocognitive development. J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2012; 54, 115130.
26. Tai, A, Tran, H, Roberts, M, et al. The association between childhood asthma and adult chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Thorax. 2014; 69, 805810.
27. Stein, CE, Fall, CH, Kumaran, K, et al. Fetal growth and coronary heart disease in south India. Lancet. 1996; 348, 12691273.
28. Barker, DJ, Winter, PD, Osmond, C, Margetts, B, Simmonds, SJ. Weight in infancy and death from ischaemic heart disease. Lancet. 1989; 2, 577580.
29. Parkinson, JRC, Hyde, MJ, Gale, C, Santhakumaran, S, Modi, N. Preterm birth and the metabolic syndrome in adult life: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Pediatrics. 2013; 131, e1240e1263.
30. Balbus, JM, Barouki, R, Birnbaum, LS, et al. Early-life prevention of non-communicable diseases. Lancet. 2013; 381, 34.
31. Danese, A, Moffitt, TE, Harrington, H, et al. Adverse childhood experiences and adult risk factors for age-related disease. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2009; 163, 11351143.
32. Lewis, AJ, Austin, E, Galbally, M. Prenatal maternal mental health and fetal growth restriction: a systematic review. J Dev Orig Health Dis. 2016; 7, 416428.
33. Hompes, T, Vrieze, E, Fieuws, S, et al. The influence of maternal cortisol and emotional state during pregnancy on fetal intrauterine growth. Pediatr Res. 2012; 72, 305315.
34. Uguz, F, Gezginc, K, Yazici, F. Are major depression and generalized anxiety disorder associated with intrauterine growth restriction in pregnant women? A case-control study. Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2011; 33, 640.e7640.e 9.
35. Maina, G, Saracco, P, Giolito, MR, et al. Impact of maternal psychological distress on fetal weight, prematurity and intrauterine growth retardation. J Affect Disord. 2008; 111(2–3), 214220.
36. Diego, MA, Field, T, Hernandez-Reif, M, et al. Prenatal depression restricts fetal growth. Early Hum Dev. 2009; 85, 6570.
37. Henrichs, J, Schenk, JJ, Roza, SJ, et al. Maternal psychological distress and fetal growth trajectories: the Generation R Study. Psychol Med. 2010; 40, 633643.
38. El Marroun, H, Jaddoe, VWV, Hudziak, JJ, et al. Maternal use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, fetal growth, and risk of adverse birth outcomes. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2012; 69, 706714.
39. Wisner, KL, Sit, DKY, Hanusa, BH, et al. Major depression and antidepressant treatment: impact on pregnancy and neonatal outcomes. Am J Psychiatry. 2009; 166, 557566.
40. Grote, NK, Bridge, JA, Gavin, AR, et al. A meta-analysis of depression during pregnancy and the risk of preterm birth, low birth weight, and intrauterine growth restriction. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2010; 67, 10121024.
41. Ding, X-X, Wu, Y-L, Xu, S-J, et al. Maternal anxiety during pregnancy and adverse birth outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. J Affect Disord. 2014; 159, 103110.
42. Milgrom, J, Skouteris, H, Worotniuk, T, Henwood, A, Bruce, L. The association between ante- and postnatal depressive symptoms and obesity in both mother and child: a systematic review of the literature. Womens Health Issues. 2012; 22, e319e28.
43. Qiao, Y, Ma, J, Wang, Y, et al. Birth weight and childhood obesity: a 12-country study. Int J Obes Suppl. 2015; 5(Suppl. 2), S74S79.
44. Li, J, Olsen, J, Vestergaard, M, et al. Prenatal stress exposure related to maternal bereavement and risk of childhood overweight. PLoS One. 2010; 5, e11896.
45. Ertel, KA, Koenen, KC, Rich-Edwards, JW, Gillman, MW. Antenatal and postpartum depressive symptoms are differentially associated with early childhood weight and adiposity. Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol. 2010; 24, 179189.
46. Dancause, KN, Laplante, DP, Fraser, S, et al. Prenatal exposure to a natural disaster increases risk for obesity in 5½-year-old children. Pediatr Res. 2012; 71, 126131.
47. Dancause, KN, Laplante, DP, Hart, KJ, et al. Prenatal stress due to a natural disaster predicts adiposity in childhood: the Iowa Flood Study. J Obes. 2015; 2015, 570541.
48. Hohwü, L, Li, J, Olsen, J, Sørensen, TIA, Obel, C. Severe maternal stress exposure due to bereavement before, during and after pregnancy and risk of overweight and obesity in young adult men: a Danish National Cohort Study. PLoS One. 2014; 9, e97490.
49. Hohwü, L, Zhu, JL, Graversen, L, et al. Prenatal parental separation and body weight, including development of overweight and obesity later in childhood. PLoS One. 2015; 10, e0119138.
50. Guxens, M, Tiemeier, H, Jansen, PW, et al. Parental psychological distress during pregnancy and early growth in preschool children: the generation R study. Am J Epidemiol. 2013; 177, 538547.
51. Ingstrup, KG, Andersen, CS, Ajslev, TA, et al. Maternal distress during pregnancy and offspring childhood overweight. J Obes. 2012; 2012, 17.
52. Park, H, Sundaram, R, Gilman, SE, et al. Timing of maternal depression and sex-specific child growth, the upstate KIDS Study. Obesity. 2018; 26, 160166.
53. Wu, S, Gennings, C, Wright, RJ, et al. Prenatal stress, methylation in inflammation-related genes, and adiposity measures in early childhood: the programming research in obesity, growth environment and social stress cohort study. Psychosom Med. 2018; 80, 3441.
54. Van Dijk, AE, Van Eijsden, M, Stronks, K, Gemke, RJBJ, Vrijkotte, TGM. The relation of maternal job strain and cortisol levels during early pregnancy with body composition later in the 5-year-old child: the ABCD study. Early Hum Dev. 2012; 88, 351356.
55. Allister, L, Lester, BM, Carr, S, Liu, J. The effects of maternal depression on fetal heart rate response to vibroacoustic stimulation. Dev Neuropsychol. 2001; 20, 639651.
56. Monk, C, Fifer, WP, Myers, MM, et al. Maternal stress responses and anxiety during pregnancy: effects on fetal heart rate. Dev Psychobiol. 2000; 36, 6777.
57. van Dijk, AE, van Eijsden, M, Stronks, K, Gemke, RJBJ, Vrijkotte, TGM. Prenatal stress and balance of the child’s cardiac autonomic nervous system at age 5-6 years. PLoS One. 2012; 7, e30413.
58. Taal, HR, de Jonge, LL, Tiemeier, H, et al. Parental psychological distress during pregnancy and childhood cardiovascular development. The Generation R Study. Early Hum Dev. 2013; 89, 547553.
59. McMillen, IC, Caroline Mcmillen, I, Robinson, JS. Developmental origins of the metabolic syndrome: prediction, plasticity, and programming. Physiol Rev. 2005; 85, 571633.
60. van Dijk, AE, van Eijsden, M, Stronks, K. Gemke RJBJ, Vrijkotte TGM. The association between prenatal psychosocial stress and blood pressure in the child at age 5-7 years. PLoS One. 2012; 7, e43548.
61. Sjöholm, A, Nyström, T. Inflammation and the etiology of type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Metab Res Rev. 2006; 22, 410.
62. Coussons-Read, ME, Okun, ML, Nettles, CD. Psychosocial stress increases inflammatory markers and alters cytokine production across pregnancy. Brain Behav Immun. 2007; 21, 343350.
63. Osborne, LM, Monk, C. Perinatal depression – the fourth inflammatory morbidity of pregnancy? Theory and literature review. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2013; 38, 19291952.
64. Howren, MB, Lamkin, DM, Suls, J. Associations of depression with C-reactive protein, IL-1, and IL-6: a meta-analysis. Psychosom Med. 2009; 71, 171186.
65. Plant, DT, Pawlby, S, Sharp, D, Zunszain, PA, Pariante, CM. Prenatal maternal depression is associated with offspring inflammation at 25 years: a prospective longitudinal cohort study. Transl Psychiatry. 2016; 6, e936.
66. O’Connor, TG, Winter, MA, Hunn, J, et al. Prenatal maternal anxiety predicts reduced adaptive immunity in infants. Brain Behav Immun. 2013; 32, 2128.
67. Entringer, S, Wüst, S, Kumsta, R, et al. Prenatal psychosocial stress exposure is associated with insulin resistance in young adults. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2008; 199, 498.e1498.e7.
68. Dancause, KN, Veru, F, Andersen, RE, Laplante, DP, King, S. Prenatal stress due to a natural disaster predicts insulin secretion in adolescence. Early Hum Dev. 2013; 89, 773776.
69. van Dijk, AE, van Eijsden, M, Stronks, K, Gemke, RJBJ, Vrijkotte, TGM. No associations of prenatal maternal psychosocial stress with fasting glucose metabolism in offspring at 5–6 years of age. J Dev Orig Health Dis. 2014; 5, 361369.
70. van de Loo, KFE, van Gelder, MMHJ, Roukema, J, et al. Prenatal maternal psychological stress and childhood asthma and wheezing: a meta-analysis. Eur Respir J. 2016; 47, 133146.
71. Rusconi, F, Gagliardi, L. Pregnancy complications and wheezing and asthma in childhood. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2018; 197, 580588.
72. Lefevre, F, Moreau, D, Sémon, E, et al. Maternal depression related to infant’s wheezing. Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2011; 22, 608613.
73. Wood, RA, Bloomberg, GR, Kattan, M, et al. Relationships among environmental exposures, cord blood cytokine responses, allergy, and wheeze at 1 year of age in an inner-city birth cohort (Urban Environment and Childhood Asthma study). J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2011; 127, 913–9.e1-6.
74. Cookson, H, Granell, R, Joinson, C, Ben-Shlomo, Y, Henderson, AJ. Mothers’ anxiety during pregnancy is associated with asthma in their children. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2009; 123, 84753.e11.
75. Guxens, M, Sonnenschein-van der Voort, AMM, Tiemeier, H, et al. Parental psychological distress during pregnancy and wheezing in preschool children: the Generation R Study. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2014; 133, 5967.e1-12.
76. Turcotte-Tremblay, A-M, Lim, R, Laplante, DP, et al. Prenatal maternal stress predicts childhood asthma in girls: project ice storm. Biomed Res Int. 2014; 2014, 201717.
77. Cheng, TS, Chen, H, Lee, T, et al. An independent association of prenatal depression with wheezing and anxiety with rhinitis in infancy. Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2015; 26, 765771.
78. Bandoli, G, von Ehrenstein, O, Ghosh, JKC, et al. Prenatal maternal stress and the risk of lifetime wheeze in young offspring: an examination by stressor and maternal ethnicity. J Immigr Minor Health. 2016; 18, 987995.
79. Zijlmans, MAC, Beijers, R, Riksen-Walraven, MJ, de Weerth, C. Maternal late pregnancy anxiety and stress is associated with children’s health: a longitudinal study. Stress. 2017; 20, 495504.
80. Ramratnam, SK, Visness, CM, Jaffee, KF, et al. Relationships among maternal stress and depression, type 2 responses, and recurrent wheezing at age 3 years in low-income urban families. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2017; 195, 674681.
81. Zhou, C, Ibanez, G, Miramont, V, et al. Prenatal maternal depression related to allergic rhinoconjunctivitis in the first 5 years of life in children of the EDEN mother-child cohort study. Allergy Rhinol. 2017; 8, 132138.
82. Beijers, R, Jansen, J, Riksen-Walraven, M, de Weerth, C. Maternal prenatal anxiety and stress predict infant illnesses and health complaints. Pediatrics. 2010; 126, e401e409.
83. Reyes, M, Perzanowski, MS, Whyatt, RM, et al. Relationship between maternal demoralization, wheeze, and immunoglobulin E among inner-city children. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2011; 107, 4249.e1.
84. Alton, ME, Tough, SC, Mandhane, PJ, Kozyrskyj, AL. Street drug use during pregnancy: potential programming effects on preschool wheeze. J Dev Orig Health Dis. 2013; 4, 191199.
85. Brew, BK, Gong, T, Williams, DM, Larsson, H, Almqvist, C. Using fathers as a negative control exposure to test the developmental origins of health and disease hypothesis: a case study on maternal distress and offspring asthma using Swedish register data. Scand J Public Health. 2017; 45(17_Suppl.), 3640.
86. Brew, BK, Lundholm, C, Viktorin, A, et al. Longitudinal depression or anxiety in mothers and offspring asthma: a Swedish population-based study. Int J Epidemiol. 2018; 47, 166174.
87. Magnus, MC, Wright, RJ, Røysamb, E, et al. Maternal psychosocial stress associates with increased risk of asthma development in offspring. Am J Epidemiol. 2017; 187, 11991209.
88. Fang, F, Höglund, CO, Arck, P, et al. Maternal bereavement and childhood asthma-analyses in two large samples of Swedish children. PLoS One. 2011; 6, e27202.
89. Chiu, Y-HM, Coull, BA, Cohen, S, Wooley, A, Wright, RJ. Prenatal and postnatal maternal stress and wheeze in urban children: effect of maternal sensitization. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2012; 186, 147154.
90. de Marco, R, Pesce, G, Girardi, P, et al. Foetal exposure to maternal stressful events increases the risk of having asthma and atopic diseases in childhood. Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2012; 23, 724729.
91. Khashan, AS, Wicks, S, Dalman, C, et al. Prenatal stress and risk of asthma hospitalization in the offspring: a Swedish population-based study. Psychosom Med. 2012; 74, 635641.
92. Chiu, Y-HM, Coull, BA, Sternthal, MJ, et al. Effects of prenatal community violence and ambient air pollution on childhood wheeze in an urban population. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2014; 133, 71322.e4.
93. Hartwig, IRV, Sly, PD, Schmidt, LA, et al. Prenatal adverse life events increase the risk for atopic diseases in children, which is enhanced in the absence of a maternal atopic predisposition. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2014; 134, 160169.
94. Larsen, AD, Schlünssen, V, Christensen, BH, et al. Exposure to psychosocial job strain during pregnancy and odds of asthma and atopic dermatitis among 7-year old children – a prospective cohort study. Scand J Work Environ Health. 2014; 40, 639648.
95. Grizenko, N, Osmanlliu, E, Fortier, M-È, Joober, R. Increased risk of asthma in children with ADHD: role of prematurity and maternal stress during pregnancy. J Can Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2015; 24, 109115.
96. Liu, X, Olsen, J, Agerbo, E, et al. Prenatal stress and childhood asthma in the offspring: role of age at onset. Eur J Public Health. 2015; 25, 10421046.
97. Phelan, AL, DiBenedetto, MR, Paul, IM, Zhu, J, Kjerulff, KH. Psychosocial stress during first pregnancy predicts infant health outcomes in the first postnatal year. Matern Child Health J. 2015; 19, 25872597.
98. Lee, A, Mathilda Chiu, Y-H, Rosa, MJ, et al. Prenatal and postnatal stress and asthma in children: temporal- and sex-specific associations. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2016; 138, 740747.e3.
99. Rosa, MJ, Just, AC, Tamayo, Y, et al. Prenatal and postnatal stress and wheeze in Mexican children: sex-specific differences. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2016; 116, 306–12.e1.
100. Trump, S, Bieg, M, Gu, Z, et al. Prenatal maternal stress and wheeze in children: novel insights into epigenetic regulation. Sci Rep. 2016; 6, 28616.
101. Lee, AG, Chiu, Y-HM, Rosa, MJ, et al. Association of prenatal and early childhood stress with reduced lung function in 7-year-olds. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2017; 119, 153159.
102. O’Connor, GT, Lynch, SV, Bloomberg, GR, et al. Early-life home environment and risk of asthma among inner-city children. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2017; 141, 14681475.
103. Smejda, K, Polanska, K, Merecz-Kot, D, et al. Maternal stress during pregnancy and allergic diseases in children during the first year of life. Respir Care. 2018; 63, 7076.
104. Elbert, NJ, Duijts, L, den Dekker, HT, et al. Maternal psychiatric symptoms during pregnancy and risk of childhood atopic diseases. Clin Exp Allergy. 2017; 47, 509519.
105. Chang, HY, Suh, DI, Yang, S-I, et al. Prenatal maternal distress affects atopic dermatitis in offspring mediated by oxidative stress. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2016; 138, 468475.e5.
106. Lin, YC, Wen, HJ, Lee, YL, Guo, YL. Are maternal psychosocial factors associated with cord immunoglobulin E in addition to family atopic history and mother immunoglobulin E? Clin Exp Allergy. 2004; 34, 548554.
107. Peters, JL, Cohen, S, Staudenmayer, J, et al. Prenatal negative life events increases cord blood IgE: interactions with dust mite allergen and maternal atopy. Allergy. 2012; 67, 545551.
108. Sternthal, MJ, Enlow, MB, Cohen, S, et al. Maternal interpersonal trauma and cord blood IgE levels in an inner-city cohort: a life-course perspective. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2009; 124, 954960.
109. McGowan, EC, Bloomberg, GR, Gergen, PJ, et al. Influence of early-life exposures on food sensitization and food allergy in an inner-city birth cohort. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2015; 135, 171178.
110. Sausenthaler, S, Rzehak, P, Chen, CM, et al. Stress-related maternal factors during pregnancy in relation to childhood eczema: results from the LISA Study. J Investig Allergol Clin Immunol. 2009; 19, 481487.
111. Wang, IJ, Wen, HJ, Chiang, TL, et al. Maternal employment and atopic dermatitis in children: a prospective cohort study. Br J Dermatol. 2013; 168, 794801.
112. Wen, H-J, Wang, Y-J, Lin, Y-C, et al. Prediction of atopic dermatitis in 2-yr-old children by cord blood IgE, genetic polymorphisms in cytokine genes, and maternal mentality during pregnancy. Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2011; 22, 695703.
113. Field, T, Diego, M, Hernandez-Reif, M. Depressed mothers’ infants are less responsive to faces and voices. Infant Behav Dev. 2009; 32, 239244.
114. Field, T, Hernandez-Reif, M, Diego, M. Depressed mothers’ newborns are less responsive to animate and inanimate stimuli. Infant Child Dev. 2010; 20, 94105.
115. Henrichs, J, Schenk, JJ, Schmidt, HG, et al. Maternal pre- and postnatal anxiety and infant temperament. The generation R study. Infant Child Dev . 2009; 18, 556572.
116. Davis, EP, Snidman, N, Wadhwa, PD, et al. Prenatal maternal anxiety and depression predict negative behavioral reactivity in infancy. Infancy. 2004; 6, 319331.
117. van der Wal, MF, van Eijsden, M, Bonsel, GJ. Stress and emotional problems during pregnancy and excessive infant crying. J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2007; 28, 431437.
118. Atkinson, L, Paglia, A, Coolbear, J, et al. Attachment security: a meta-analysis of maternal mental health correlates. Clin Psychol Rev. 2000; 20, 10191040.
119. Laplante, DP, Brunet, A, Schmitz, N, Ciampi, A, King, S. Project Ice Storm: prenatal maternal stress affects cognitive and linguistic functioning in 5 1/2-year-old children. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2008; 47, 10631072.
120. Laplante, DP, Barr, RG, Brunet, A, et al. Stress during pregnancy affects general intellectual and language functioning in human toddlers. Pediatr Res. 2004; 56, 400410.
121. Niederhofer, H, Reiter, A. Prenatal maternal stress, prenatal fetal movements and perinatal temperament factors influence behavior and school marks at the age of 6 years. Fetal Diagn Ther. 2004; 19, 160162.
122. Yong Ping, E, Laplante, DP, Elgbeili, G, et al. Prenatal maternal stress predicts stress reactivity at 2½ years of age: the Iowa Flood Study. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2015; 56, 6278.
123. O’Connor, TG, Caprariello, P, Blackmore, ER, et al. Prenatal mood disturbance predicts sleep problems in infancy and toddlerhood. Early Hum Dev. 2007; 83, 451458.
124. O’Connor, TG, Heron, J, Glover, V. Alspac Study T. Antenatal anxiety predicts child behavioral/emotional problems independently of postnatal depression. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2002; 41, 14701477.
125. Deave, T, Heron, J, Evans, J, Emond, A. The impact of maternal depression in pregnancy on early child development. Obstet Gynecol Surv. 2008; 63, 626628.
126. Luoma, I, Kaukonen, P, Mäntymaa, M, et al. A longitudinal study of maternal depressive symptoms, negative expectations and perceptions of child problems. Child Psychiatry Hum Dev. 2004; 35, 3753.
127. Van den Bergh, BRH, Marcoen, A. High antenatal maternal anxiety is related to ADHD symptoms, externalizing problems, and anxiety in 8- and 9-year-olds. Child Dev. 2004; 75, 10851097.
128. O’Connor, TG, Heron, J, Golding, J, Beveridge, M, Glover, V. Maternal antenatal anxiety and children’s behavioural/emotional problems at 4 years. Br J Psychiatry. 2002; 180, 502508.
129. Wen, DJ, Poh, JS, Ni, SN, et al. Influences of prenatal and postnatal maternal depression on amygdala volume and microstructure in young children. Transl Psychiatry. 2017; 7, e1103.
130. El Marroun, H, Zou, R, Muetzel, RL, et al. Prenatal exposure to maternal and paternal depressive symptoms and white matter microstructure in children. Depress Anxiety. 2018; 35, 321329.
131. Qiu, A, Anh, TT, Li, Y, et al. Prenatal maternal depression alters amygdala functional connectivity in 6-month-old infants. Transl Psychiatry. 2015; 5, e508.
132. Rifkin-Graboi, A, Bai, J, Chen, H, et al. Prenatal maternal depression associates with microstructure of right amygdala in neonates at birth. Biol Psychiatry. 2013; 74, 837844.
133. Sandman, CA, Buss, C, Head, K, Davis, EP. Fetal exposure to maternal depressive symptoms is associated with cortical thickness in late childhood. Biol Psychiatry. 2015; 77, 324334.
134. El Marroun, H, Tiemeier, H, Muetzel, RL, et al. Prenatal exposure to maternal and paternal depressive symptoms and brain morphology: a population-based prospective neuroimaging study in young children. Depress Anxiety. 2016; 33, 658666.
135. Lebel, C, Walton, M, Letourneau, N, Giesbrecht, GF, Kaplan, BJ. Dewey D. Prepartum and postpartum maternal depressive symptoms are related to children’s brain structure in preschool. Biol Psychiatry. 2016; 80, 859868.
136. DiPietro, JA, Novak, MFSX, Costigan, KA, Atella, LD, Reusing, SP. Maternal psychological distress during pregnancy in relation to child development at age two. Child Dev. 2006; 77, 573587.
137. Whitehouse, AJO, Robinson, M, Zubrick, SR, et al. Maternal life events during pregnancy and offspring language ability in middle childhood: the Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort Study. Early Hum Dev. 2010; 86, 487492.
138. Li, J, Robinson, M, Malacova, E, et al. Maternal life stress events in pregnancy link to children’s school achievement at age 10 years. J Pediatr. 2013; 162, 483489.
139. Field, T. Prenatal depression effects on early development: a review. Infant Behav Dev. 2011; 34, 114.
140. Talge, NM, Neal, C, Glover, V, et al. Antenatal maternal stress and long-term effects on child neurodevelopment: how and why? J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2007; 48(3–4), 245261.
141. Goodman, SH, Rouse, MH, Connell, AM, et al. Maternal depression and child psychopathology: a meta-analytic review. Clin Child Fam Psychol Rev. 2011; 14, 127.
142. Reynolds, RM. Glucocorticoid excess and the developmental origins of disease: two decades of testing the hypothesis – 2012 Curt Richter Award Winner. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2013; 38, 111.
143. Rakers, F, Rupprecht, S, Dreiling, M, et al. Transfer of maternal psychosocial stress to the fetus. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2017; Epub 22 Feb 2017; doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2017.02.019.
144. Van den Bergh, BRH, van den Heuvel, MI, Lahti, M, et al. Prenatal developmental origins of behavior and mental health: The influence of maternal stress in pregnancy. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2017; Epub 28 Jul 2017; doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2017.07.003.
145. Cottrell, EC. Prenatal stress, glucocorticoids and the programming of adult disease. Front Behav Neurosci. 2009; 3, 19.
146. Hohwü, L, Henriksen, TB, Grønborg, TK, et al. Maternal salivary cortisol levels during pregnancy are positively associated with overweight children. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2015; 52, 143152.
147. Entringer, S, Buss, C, Rasmussen, JM, et al. Maternal cortisol during pregnancy and infant adiposity: a prospective investigation. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2017; 102, 13661374.
148. Stout, SA, Espel, EV, Sandman, CA, Glynn, LM, Davis, EP. Fetal programming of children’s obesity risk. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2015; 53, 2939.
149. Rash, JA, Campbell, TS, Letourneau, N, Giesbrecht, GF. Maternal cortisol during pregnancy is related to infant cardiac vagal control. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2015; 54, 7889.
150. Zijlmans, MAC, Riksen-Walraven, JM, de Weerth, C. Associations between maternal prenatal cortisol concentrations and child outcomes: a systematic review. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2015; 53, 124.
151. Van den Bergh, BRH, Mulder, EJH, Mennes, M, Glover, V. Antenatal maternal anxiety and stress and the neurobehavioural development of the fetus and child: links and possible mechanisms. A review. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2005; 29, 237258.
152. Mulder, EJH, de Medina, PGR, Huizink, AC, et al. Prenatal maternal stress: effects on pregnancy and the (unborn) child. Early Hum Dev. 2002; 70, 314.
153. Huizink, AC, Mulder, EJH, Buitelaar, JK. Prenatal stress and risk for psychopathology: specific effects or induction of general susceptibility? Psychol Bull. 2004; 130, 115142.
154. Abbott, PW, Gumusoglu, SB, Bittle, J, Beversdorf, DQ, Stevens, HE. Prenatal stress and genetic risk: how prenatal stress interacts with genetics to alter risk for psychiatric illness. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2018; 90, 921.
155. Teixeira, JM, Fisk, NM, Glover, V. Association between maternal anxiety in pregnancy and increased uterine artery resistance index: cohort based study. BMJ. 1999; 318, 153157.
156. Bassett, JM, Hanson, C. Catecholamines inhibit growth in fetal sheep in the absence of hypoxemia. Am J Physiol. 1998; 274(6 Pt 2), R1536R1545.
157. Macko, AR, Yates, DT, Chen, X, et al. Adrenal demedullation and oxygen supplementation independently increase glucose-stimulated insulin concentrations in fetal sheep with intrauterine growth restriction. Endocrinology. 2016; 157, 21042115.
158. Dong, Y, Liu, G, Wang, Z, et al. Effects of catecholaminergic nerve lesion on endometrial development during early pregnancy in Mice. Histol Histopathol. 2016; 31, 415424.
159. Holzman, C, Senagore, P, Tian, Y, et al. Maternal catecholamine levels in midpregnancy and risk of preterm delivery. Am J Epidemiol. 2009; 170, 10141024.
160. Bleker, LS, Roseboom, TJ, Vrijkotte, TG, Reynolds, RM, de Rooij, SR. Determinants of cortisol during pregnancy – the ABCD cohort. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2017; 83, 172181.
161. Shelton, MM, Schminkey, DL, Groer, MW. Relationships among prenatal depression, plasma cortisol, and inflammatory cytokines. Biol Res Nurs. 2015; 17, 295302.
162. Petraglia, F, Hatch, MC, Lapinski, R, et al. Lack of effect of psychosocial stress on maternal corticotropin-releasing factor and catecholamine levels at 28 weeks’ gestation. J Soc Gynecol Investig. 2001; 8, 8388.
163. Goedhart, G, Vrijkotte, TGM, Roseboom, TJ, et al. Maternal cortisol and offspring birthweight: results from a large prospective cohort study. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2010; 35, 644652.
164. Benediktsson, R, Calder, AA, Edwards, CR, Seckl, JR. Placental 11 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase: a key regulator of fetal glucocorticoid exposure. Clin Endocrinol. 1997; 46, 161166.
165. Murphy, VE, Smith, R, Giles, WB, Clifton, VL. Endocrine regulation of human fetal growth: the role of the mother, placenta, and fetus. Endocr Rev. 2006; 27, 141169.
166. O’Donnell, KJ, Jensen, AB, Freeman, L, et al. Maternal prenatal anxiety and downregulation of placental 11β-HSD2. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2012; 37, 818826.
167. Mairesse, J, Lesage, J, Breton, C, et al. Maternal stress alters endocrine function of the feto-placental unit in rats. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2007; 292, E1526E1533.
168. Sgoifo, A, Koolhaas, J, De Boer, S, et al. Social stress, autonomic neural activation, and cardiac activity in rats. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 1999; 23, 915923.
169. Cacioppo, JT. Social neuroscience: autonomic, neuroendocrine, and immune responses to stress. Psychophysiology. 1994; 31, 113128.
170. Allister, L, Masakowski, Y, Carr, S, Andreozzi, L, Lester, B. The effects of maternal depression on fetal heart rate and fetal heart rate response to vibroacoustic stimulation. Infant Behav Dev. 1998; 21, 262.
171. Dieter, JNI, Emory, EK, Johnson, KC, Raynor, BD. Maternal depression and anxiety effects on the human fetus: preliminary findings and clinical implications. Infant Ment Health J. 2008; 29, 420441.
172. DiPietro, JA, Hodgson, DM, Costigan, KA, Hilton, SC, Johnson, TR. Fetal neurobehavioral development. Child Dev. 1996; 67, 25532567.
173. DiPietro, JA, Kivlighan, KT, Costigan, KA, et al. Prenatal antecedents of newborn neurological maturation. Child Dev. 2010; 81, 115130.
174. Garfield, L, Mathews, HL, Witek Janusek, L. Inflammatory and epigenetic pathways for perinatal depression. Biol Res Nurs. 2016; 18, 331343.
175. Cao-Lei, L, de Rooij, SR, King, S, et al. Prenatal stress and epigenetics. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2017; Epub 18 May 2017; doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2017.05.016.
176. Cao-Lei, L, Dancause, KN, Elgbeili, G, et al. DNA methylation mediates the impact of exposure to prenatal maternal stress on BMI and central adiposity in children at age 13½ years: Project Ice Storm. Epigenetics. 2015; 10, 749761.
177. Cao-Lei, L, Massart, R, Suderman, MJ, et al. DNA methylation signatures triggered by prenatal maternal stress exposure to a natural disaster: Project Ice Storm. PLoS One. 2014; 9, e107653.
178. Heijmans, BT, Tobi, EW, Stein, AD, et al. Persistent epigenetic differences associated with prenatal exposure to famine in humans. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008; 105, 1704617049.
179. Nemoda, Z, Massart, R, Suderman, M, et al. Maternal depression is associated with DNA methylation changes in cord blood T lymphocytes and adult hippocampi. Transl Psychiatry. 2015; 5, e545.
180. Devlin, AM, Brain, U, Austin, J, Oberlander, TF. Prenatal exposure to maternal depressed mood and the MTHFR C677T variant affect SLC6A4 methylation in infants at birth. PLoS One. 2010; 5, e12201.
181. Conradt, E, Lester, BM, Appleton, AA, Armstrong, DA, Marsit, CJ. The roles of DNA methylation of NR3C1 and 11β-HSD2 and exposure to maternal mood disorder in utero on newborn neurobehavior. Epigenetics. 2013; 8, 13211329.
182. Räikkönen, K, Pesonen, AK, O’Reilly, JR, et al. Maternal depressive symptoms during pregnancy, placental expression of genes regulating glucocorticoid and serotonin function and infant regulatory behaviors. Psychol Med. 2015; 45, 32173226.
183. Monk, C, Feng, T, Lee, S, et al. Distress during pregnancy: epigenetic regulation of placenta glucocorticoid-related genes and fetal neurobehavior. Am J Psychiatry. 2016; 173, 705713.
184. Oberlander, TF, Weinberg, J, Papsdorf, M, et al. Prenatal exposure to maternal depression, neonatal methylation of human glucocorticoid receptor gene (NR3C1) and infant cortisol stress responses. Epigenetics. 2008; 3, 97106.
185. Christian, LM. Effects of stress and depression on inflammatory immune parameters in pregnancy. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2014; 211, 275277.
186. Veru, F, Laplante, DP, Luheshi, G, King, S. Prenatal maternal stress exposure and immune function in the offspring. Stress. 2014; 17, 133148.
187. Christian, LM, Franco, A, Glaser, R, Iams, JD. Depressive symptoms are associated with elevated serum proinflammatory cytokines among pregnant women. Brain Behav Immun. 2009; 23, 750754.
188. Raghupathy, R, Kalinka, J. Cytokine imbalance in pregnancy complications and its modulation. Front Biosci. 2008; 13, 985994.
189. O’Mahony, SM, Clarke, G, Dinan, TG, Cryan, JF. Early-life adversity and brain development: is the microbiome a missing piece of the puzzle? Neuroscience. 2017; 342, 3754.
190. Jašarević, E, Rodgers, AB, Bale, TL. A novel role for maternal stress and microbial transmission in early life programming and neurodevelopment. Neurobiol Stress. 2015; 1, 8188.
191. Ipci, K, Altıntoprak, N, Muluk, NB, Senturk, M, Cingi, C. The possible mechanisms of the human microbiome in allergic diseases. Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2017; 274, 617626.
192. O’Mahony, SM, Clarke, G, Borre, YE, Dinan, TG, Cryan, JF. Serotonin, tryptophan metabolism and the brain-gut-microbiome axis. Behav Brain Res. 2015; 277, 3248.
193. Sherman, MP, Zaghouani, H, Niklas, V. Gut microbiota, the immune system, and diet influence the neonatal gut–brain axis. Pediatr Res. 2014; 77, 127135.
194. Cilieborg, MS, Boye, M, Sangild, PT. Bacterial colonization and gut development in preterm neonates. Early Hum Dev. 2012; 88(Suppl. 1), S41S49.
195. Zijlmans, MAC, Korpela, K, Riksen-Walraven, JM, de Vos, WM, de Weerth, C. Maternal prenatal stress is associated with the infant intestinal microbiota. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2015; 53, 233245.
196. Gupta, S, Agarwal, A, Banerjee, J, Alvarez, JG. The role of oxidative stress in spontaneous abortion and recurrent pregnancy loss: a systematic review. Obstet Gynecol Surv. 2007; 62, 335347.
197. Turpin, CA, Sakyi, SA, Owiredu, WKBA, Ephraim, RKD, Anto, EO. Association between adverse pregnancy outcome and imbalance in angiogenic regulators and oxidative stress biomarkers in gestational hypertension and preeclampsia. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2015; 15, 189.
198. Ferguson, KK, McElrath, TF, Chen, Y-H, et al. Repeated measures of urinary oxidative stress biomarkers during pregnancy and preterm birth. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2015; 212, 208.e1208.e8.
199. Suh, DI, Chang, HY, Lee, E, Yang, SI, Hong, SJ. Prenatal maternal distress and allergic diseases in offspring: review of evidence and possible pathways. Allergy Asthma Immunol Res. 2017; 9, 200211.
200. Källén, B. Neonate characteristics after maternal use of antidepressants in late pregnancy. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2004; 158, 312316.
201. Lattimore, KA, Donn, SM, Kaciroti, N, et al. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) use during pregnancy and effects on the fetus and newborn: a meta-analysis. J Perinatol. 2005; 25, 595604.
202. Brunton, PJ. Effects of maternal exposure to social stress during pregnancy: consequences for mother and offspring. Reproduction. 2013; 146, R175R189.
203. Cohen, S, Kamarck, T, Mermelstein, R. A global measure of perceived stress. J Health Soc Behav. 1983; 24, 385.
204. Brunton, RJ, Dryer, R, Saliba, A, Kohlhoff, J. Pregnancy anxiety: a systematic review of current scales. J Affect Disord. 2015; 176, 2434.
205. Matthey, S, Ross-Hamid, C. The validity of DSM symptoms for depression and anxiety disorders during pregnancy. J Affect Disord. 2011; 133, 546552.
206. Allen, AP, Kennedy, PJ, Cryan, JF, Dinan, TG, Clarke, G. Biological and psychological markers of stress in humans: focus on the Trier Social Stress Test. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2014; 38, 94124.
207. Deasy, C, Coughlan, B, Pironom, J, Jourdan, D, McNamara, PM. Psychological distress and lifestyle of students: implications for health promotion. Health Promot Int. 2015; 30, 7787.
208. Sun, J, Buys, N, Stewart, D, Shum, D. Mediating effects of coping, personal belief, and social support on the relationship among stress, depression, and smoking behaviour in university students. Health Educ. 2011; 111, 133146.
209. Tavolacci, MP, Ladner, J, Grigioni, S, et al. Prevalence and association of perceived stress, substance use and behavioral addictions: a cross-sectional study among university students in France, 2009-2011. BMC Public Health. 2013; 13, 724.
210. de Wit, L, Luppino, F, van Straten, A, et al. Depression and obesity: a meta-analysis of community-based studies. Psychiatry Res. 2010; 178, 230235.
211. Ertel, KA, Rich-Edwards, JW, Koenen, KC. Maternal depression in the United States: nationally representative rates and risks. J Womens Health. 2011; 20, 16091617.
212. Hauge, LJ, Torgersen, L, Vollrath, M. Associations between maternal stress and smoking: findings from a population-based prospective cohort study. Addiction. 2012; 107, 11681173.
213. Michels, N, Sioen, I, Boone, L, et al. Longitudinal association between child stress and lifestyle. Health Psychol. 2015; 34, 4050.
214. Sleddens, EFC, Gerards, SMPL, Thijs, C, de Vries, NK, Kremers, SPJ. General parenting, childhood overweight and obesity-inducing behaviors: a review. Int J Pediatr Obes. 2011; 6, e12e27.
215. Braungart-Rieker, JM, Lefever, JB, Planalp, EM, Moore, ES. Body mass index at 3 years of age: cascading effects of prenatal maternal depression and mother-infant dynamics. J Pediatr. 2016; 177, 12832.e1.
216. Gemmill, AW, Worotniuk, T, Holt, CJ, Skouteris, H, Milgrom, J. Maternal psychological factors and controlled child feeding practices in relation to child body mass index. Child Obes. 2013; 9, 326337.
217. Rondó, PHC, Rezende, G, Lemos, JO, Pereira, JA. Maternal stress and distress and child nutritional status. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2013; 67, 348352.
218. Smith, GD. Assessing intrauterine influences on offspring health outcomes: can epidemiological studies yield robust findings? Basic Clin Pharmacol Toxicol. 2008; 102, 245256.
219. Merikangas, KR. Assortative mating for psychiatric disorders and psychological traits. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1982; 39, 11731180.
220. Mathews, CA, Reus, VI. Assortative mating in the affective disorders: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Compr Psychiatry. 2001; 42, 257262.
221. Davey Smith, G, Hemani, G. Mendelian randomization: genetic anchors for causal inference in epidemiological studies. Hum Mol Genet. 2014; 23(R1), R89R98.
222. Swerdlow, DI, Kuchenbaecker, KB, Shah, S, et al. Selecting instruments for Mendelian randomization in the wake of genome-wide association studies. Int J Epidemiol. 2016; 45, 16001616.
223. Paaby, AB, Rockman, MV. The many faces of pleiotropy. Trends Genet. 2013; 29, 6673.
224. O’Hara, MW, Swain, AM. Rates and risk of postpartum depression – a meta-analysis. Int Rev Psychiatry. 1996; 8, 3754.
225. Perales, M, Refoyo, I, Coteron, J, Bacchi, M, Barakat, R. Exercise during pregnancy attenuates prenatal depression: a randomized controlled trial. Eval Health Prof. 2015; 38, 5972.
226. King, S, Laplante, DP. Using natural disasters to study prenatal maternal stress in humans. Adv Neurobiol. 2015; 10, 285313.
227. Thapar, A, Harold, G, Rice, F, et al. Do intrauterine or genetic influences explain the foetal origins of chronic disease? A novel experimental method for disentangling effects. BMC Med Res Methodol. 2007; 7, 25.
228. Rice, F, Harold, GT, Boivin, J, et al. The links between prenatal stress and offspring development and psychopathology: disentangling environmental and inherited influences. Psychol Med. 2010; 40, 335345.


Related content

Powered by UNSILO
Type Description Title
Supplementary materials

Vehmeijer et al. supplementary material
Tables S1-S5

 Word (82 KB)
82 KB

Maternal psychological distress during pregnancy and childhood health outcomes: a narrative review

  • F. O. L. Vehmeijer (a1) (a2) (a3), M. Guxens (a4) (a5) (a6) (a7), L. Duijts (a1) (a8) (a9) and H. El Marroun (a1) (a7)


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.