Open Access
Article
Maternal stress-induced reduction in birth weight as a marker for adult affective state
Daniel L A van den Hove1,Gunter Kenis1,Harry W M Steinbusch1,Carlos E Blanco1,Jos Prickaerts1
1
Department of Neuroscience, School for Mental Health and Neuroscience, Maastricht University, European Graduate School of Neuroscience, Universiteitssingel 50, PO box 616, 6200 MD, Maastricht, The Netherlands. d.vandenhove@np.unimaas.nl
DOI: 10.2741/E63 Volume 2 Issue 1, pp.43-46
Published: 01 January 2010
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Clinical and biochemical markers and fetal-neonatal development)
Abstract

It is known that adverse events experienced by a pregnant woman may be reflected upon the developing fetus and adversely affect its mental wellbeing in later life. In a recent study by our group, prenatal stress was associated with a clear increase in anxiety- and depression-related behavior in male, but not female Sprague-Dawley offspring. Since birth weight data were recorded we were able to determine whether birth weight, as an important outcome measure of fetal distress, may be used as a predictive indicator for adult performance. For this purpose, a correlation analysis was performed, aimed at studying the possible link between stress-induced fetal growth restriction and adult affective state. Male birth weight correlated positively to depression-related behavior in the forced swim test. Furthermore, it weight was correlated negatively to basal, and positively to stress-induced, plasma corticosterone levels in adulthood. Female birth weight did not correlate to any of the studied outcome measures. These data suggest that male birth weight may represent a valuable indicative marker for variations in adult affective state with a developmental origin.

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Daniel L A van den Hove, Gunter Kenis, Harry W M Steinbusch, Carlos E Blanco, Jos Prickaerts. Maternal stress-induced reduction in birth weight as a marker for adult affective state. Frontiers in Bioscience-Elite. 2010. 2(1); 43-46.