Post-term birth as a response to environmental stress: The case of September 11, 2001

Claire E. Margerison-Zilko, Julia M. Goodman, Elizabeth Anderson, Alison Gemmill, Ralph A. Catalano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background and objectives: Despite growing interest in the role of maternal psychosocial stress as a determinant of preterm birth, no existing work has examined the relation between maternal stress and post-term birth (≥42 weeks). We hypothesize that prolonging gestation past term may represent an adaptive strategy to a suboptimal environment. Methodology: We examined the relationship between exposure to the September 2001 terrorist attacks and odds of post-term birth in California. We calculated the expected odds of post-term birth among conception cohorts of singleton gestations in California between October 1996 and November 2005. We used time series analysis to test for higher than expected odds of post-term birth among the 10 cohorts exposed to the attacks of September 2001 (those conceived from December 2000 to September 2001). Results: The observed odds of post-term delivery among gestations at 33-36 weeks in September 2001 were higher than statistically expected for all race/ethnic and sex groups. Conclusions and implications: Our finding that odds of post-term birth were higher than expected among pregnancies exposed to the September 2001 terrorist attacks in late gestation provides initial support for the hypothesis that exposure to a psychosocial stress during pregnancy may result in prolonged gestation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbereov001
Pages (from-to)13-20
Number of pages8
JournalEvolution, Medicine and Public Health
Volume2015
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Critical window
  • Gestation
  • Growth
  • Parent-offspring conflict
  • Post term
  • Pre-term
  • Pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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