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Biol Psychol. 2018 Dec 19. pii: S0301-0511(18)30360-0. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2018.12.005. [Epub ahead of print]

Ethnic differences in stress-induced cortisol responses:Increased risk for depression during pregnancy.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, California State University, 1250 Bellflower Blvd, Long Beach, CA 90840-0901, USA. Electronic address: guido.urizar@csulb.edu.
2
Department of Psychological Science, University of California, Irvine, 4562 Social and Behavioral Sciences Gateway, Irvine, CA 92697, USA. Electronic address: ilona.yim@uci.edu.
3
Department of Psychological Science, University of California, Irvine, 4562 Social and Behavioral Sciences Gateway, Irvine, CA 92697, USA. Electronic address: ykofman@uci.edu.
4
Department of Psychology, California State University, 1250 Bellflower Blvd, Long Beach, CA 90840-0901, USA. Electronic address: nina.smallwood@biola.edu.
5
Department of Psychology, California State University, 1250 Bellflower Blvd, Long Beach, CA 90840-0901, USA. Electronic address: karissa.miller@csulb.edu.
6
Department of Psychology, California State University, 1250 Bellflower Blvd, Long Beach, CA 90840-0901, USA. Electronic address: ron.freche@ku.edu.
7
Department of Psychology, California State University, 1250 Bellflower Blvd, Long Beach, CA 90840-0901, USA. Electronic address: amber.johnson@csulb.edu.

Abstract

Few studies have examined individual differences in stress reactivity during pregnancy. The current study examined whether cortisol responses to a laboratory stressor (Trier Social Stress Test; TSST) significantly differed within an ethnically diverse sample of 34 pregnant women (38% Latina, 29% African American) identified to be at low (n = 17; i.e., low depressive symptoms) versus high risk for depression (n = 17; i.e., past history of depression and/or high depressive symptoms). Women at high depression risk, particularly those with a past history of depression, showed greater cortisol responses to the TSST than women at low depression risk, controlling for gestational age, parity, and education (p = 0.03). Moreover, African American women, particularly those at high depression risk, showed blunted cortisol responses to the TSST compared to non-African American women (p = 0.02). Our results highlight risk factors for depression during pregnancy and have strong implications for reducing health disparities in this population.

KEYWORDS:

Cortisol; Depression; Ethnicity; Pregnancy; Trier Social Stress Test

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