Refereed journal article or data article (A1)

Maternal prenatal psychological distress and hair cortisol levels associate with infant fecal microbiota composition at 2.5 months of age

List of AuthorsAatsinki A, Keskitalo A, Laitinen V, Munukka E, Uusitupa H, Lahti L, Kortesluoma S, Mustonen P, Rodrigues AJ, Coimbra B, Huovinen P, Karlsson H, Karlsson L

Publication year2020


Journal name in sourcePsychoneuroendocrinology

Article number104754

Volume number119

Number of pages9




Self-archived copy’s web address

BackgroundMaternal prenatal stress associates with infant developmental outcomes, but the mechanisms underlying this association are not fully understood. Alterations in the composition and function of infant intestinal microbiota may mediate some of the observed health effects, a viewpoint that is supported by animal studies along with a small human study showing that exposure to prenatal stress modifies the offspring’s intestinal microbiota. In the current study, we aim to investigate the associations between maternal prenatal psychological distress (PPD) and hair cortisol concentration (HCC) with infant fecal microbiota composition in a large prospective human cohort.MethodsThe study population was drawn from FinnBrain Birth Cohort Study. Maternal PPD was measured with standardized questionnaires (EPDS, SCL, PRAQ-R2, Daily Hassles) three times during pregnancy (n = 398). A measure addressing the chronicity of PPD was composed separately for each questionnaire. HCC was measured from a five cm segment at gestational week 24 (n = 115), thus covering the early and mid-pregnancy. Infant fecal samples were collected at the age of 2.5 months and analyzed with 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing.ResultsMaternal chronic PPD (all symptom measures) showed positive associations (FDR < 0.01) with bacterial genera from phylumProteobacteria, with potential pathogens, in infants. Further, chronic PPD (SCL, PRAQ-R2, and Daily Hassles negative scale) associated negatively with Akkermansia. HCC associated negatively with Lactobacillus. Neither maternal chronic PPD nor HCC associated with infant fecal microbiota diversity.ConclusionChronic maternal PPD symptoms and elevated HCC associate with alterations in infant intestinal microbiota composition. In keeping with the earlier literature, maternal PPD symptoms were associated with increases in genera fromProteobacteria phylum. Further research is needed to understand how these microbiota changes are linked with later child health outcomes.

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Last updated on 2022-07-04 at 18:39