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J Dev Orig Health Dis. 2014 Oct;5(5):361-9. doi: 10.1017/S2040174414000300. Epub 2014 Jun 20.

No associations of prenatal maternal psychosocial stress with fasting glucose metabolism in offspring at 5-6 years of age.

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1Department of Public Health,Academic Medical Center,University of Amsterdam,Amsterdam,the Netherlands.
2Department of Epidemiology,Documentation and Health Promotion,Public Health Service of Amsterdam (GGD),Amsterdam,the Netherlands.
4Department of Pediatrics,VU University Medical Center,Amsterdam,the Netherlands.


Highly prevalent maternal psychosocial complaints are accompanied by increases in glucocorticoid stress hormones, which may predispose the offspring for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease later in adulthood. The aim of the current research is to study whether prenatal maternal psychosocial stress is associated with parameters of blood glucose metabolism in their children aged 5-6 years. The study design was a prospective birth cohort (the Amsterdam Born Children and their Development study, the Netherlands). Depressive symptoms, pregnancy-related anxiety, parenting daily hassles and job strain were recorded by questionnaire (gestational week 16). A cumulative score was also calculated. Possible sex differences in the associations were considered. The subjects were 1952 mother-child pairs. Outcome measures were fasting glucose (n=1952), C-peptide and insulin resistance (HOMA2-IR) (n=1478) in the children at the age of 5-6 years. The stress scales, single and cumulative, were not associated with glucose/C-peptide/insulin resistance (all P>0.05). We did not find evidence for sex differences. In conclusion, we did not find evidence for an association between psychosocial stress during early pregnancy and parameters of glucose metabolism in offspring at the age of 5-6 years. Differences emerging later in life or in response to a metabolic challenge should not be ruled out.

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