Concurrent levels of maternal salivary cortisol are unrelated to self-reported psychological measures in low-risk pregnant women

Kristin M. Voegtline, Kathleen A. Costigan, Katie T. Kivlighan, Mark L. Laudenslager, Janice L. Henderson, Janet A. Dipietro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Associations between salivary cortisol and maternal psychological distress and well-being were examined prospectively on 112 women with normally progressing, singleton pregnancies between 24 and 38 weeks gestation. At each of 5 visits, conducted in 3-week intervals, women provided a saliva sample and completed questionnaires measuring trait anxiety, depressive symptoms, pregnancy-specific hassles and uplifts, and psychological well-being. Maternal salivary cortisol was unrelated to psychological measures with the exception of minor associations detected with measures of anxiety and depressive symptoms between 30 and 32 weeks only. Findings indicate that self-reported maternal psychological distress and well-being are not associated with significant variation in maternal salivary cortisol levels during the second half of gestation. This suggests that studies that measure psychological factors in pregnancy but do not measure maternal cortisol should exercise caution in assuming activation of the maternal hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis is the mechanism through which maternal psychological factors are transduced to the fetus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101-108
Number of pages8
JournalArchives of Women's Mental Health
Volume16
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2013

Keywords

  • Cortisol
  • Fetal programming
  • Maternal stress
  • Pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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