Impact of prenatal psychosocial exposures on hair cortisol levels and child health: cohort study
2014 (English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Background Early psychosocial exposures are increasingly recognized as crucial for health throughout life. A possible mechanism could be physiologic dysregulation due to stress. Cortisol in hair is a new biomarker, assessing long-term HPA axis activity. The objective was to investigate whether prenatal adverse psychosocial circumstances influence infant cortisol levels in hair and health outcome in children prospectively until age 10.
Methods True prospective cohort study in the general community with a questionnaire covering 11 psychosocial items in the family during pregnancy formed a composite scale of prenatal psychosocial vulnerability, and cumulative incidence of diseases through diagnoses until age 10 in n=1876 children. At age 1, cortisol levels in hair were measured using a competitive radioimmunoassay on a subsample of n=209.
Results Children with added prenatal psychosocial exposures had higher infant cortisol levels in hair (B=0.40, p<0.0001, adjusted for gender and size for gestational age) in a cumulative manner and were more often (p≤0.05) affected by 12 of the 14 most common childhood diagnoses with a general pattern of rising ORs.
Conclusions These findings support the model of physiologic dysregulation as a plausible mechanism in how the duration and number of early detrimental psychosocial exposures determine health outcome. It indicates that the multiplicity of adversities should be targeted in future interventions and could help to identify children who are at high risk of poor health. Furthermore, given the prolonged nature of exposure to a stressful social environment, the novel biomarker of cortisol in hair could be of major importance.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Psychosocial stress, antenatal programming, child health and development, cortisol in hair, health disparities
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-111093OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-111093DiVA: diva2:753268