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J Affect Disord. 2018 Jul;234:335-345. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2018.02.067. Epub 2018 Mar 17.

Prenatal exposure to disaster-related traumatic stress and developmental trajectories of temperament in early childhood: Superstorm Sandy pregnancy study.

Author information

1
Queens College, CUNY, Psychology, New York, NY, United States.
2
Borough of Manhattan Community College, Social Science, Human Service and Criminal Justice, New York, NY, United States.
3
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Psychiatry, New York, NY, United States.
4
Queens College, CUNY, Psychology, New York, NY, United States; Graduate School of Public Health, CUNY, New York, NY, United States.
5
Queens College, CUNY, Psychology, New York, NY, United States; The Graduate Center, CUNY, Psychology, New York, NY, United States.
6
Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, United States.
7
Yale University, School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, United States; VA CT Healthcare System, New Haven, CT, United States; University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Amherst, MA, United States.
8
Queens College, CUNY, Psychology, New York, NY, United States; Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Psychiatry, New York, NY, United States; The Graduate Center, CUNY, Psychology, New York, NY, United States. Electronic address: Yoko.nomura@qc.cuny.edu.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Little is known about the impact of prenatal maternal stress (PNMS) on the developmental trajectory of temperament and few studies have been able to incorporate a natural disaster as a quasi-experimental stressor. The current study investigated PNMS related to Superstorm Sandy ('Sandy'), a hurricane that struck the New York metropolitan area in October 2012, in terms of objective exposure during pregnancy, subjective stress reaction as assessed by maternal symptoms of post-traumatic stress, and their impact on the developmental changes in temperament during early childhood.

METHOD:

A subsample of 318 mother-child dyads was drawn from the Stress in Pregnancy Study. Temperament was measured at 6, 12, 18, and 24 months of age.

RESULTS:

Objective exposure was associated with greater High-Intensity Pleasure, Approach, Perceptual Sensitivity and Fearfulness, but lower Cuddliness and Duration of Orientation at 6 months. Objective exposure and its interaction with subjective stress reaction predicted developmental changes in temperament. In particular, objective exposure was linked to greater increases in Activity Level but decreases in High-Intensity Pleasure, Approach, and Fearfulness. The combination of objective exposure and subjective stress reaction was also associated with greater increases in Activity Level.

LIMITATIONS:

Temperament was measured solely via maternal report. Trimester-specific effects of Sandy on temperament were not examined.

CONCLUSION:

This is the first study to examine the effects of prenatal maternal exposure to a natural disaster on trajectories of early childhood temperament. Findings suggest that both objective stress exposure and subjective stress reaction in-utero predict developmental trajectories of temperament in early childhood.

KEYWORDS:

Longitudinal data; Natural disaster; Objective stress exposure; Prenatal maternal stress; Subjective stress reaction; Temperament

PMID:
29614461
PMCID:
PMC5963732
DOI:
10.1016/j.jad.2018.02.067
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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