Maternal mental well being influences offspring development. Research suggests that an interplay between genetic and environmental factors underlies this familial transmission of mental disorders.
To explore an interaction between genetic and environmental factors to predict trajectories of maternal mental well being, and to examine whether these trajectories are associated with epigenetic modifications in mothers and their offspring.
We assessed maternal childhood trauma and rearing experiences, prenatal and postnatal symptoms of depression and stress experience from 6 to 72 months postpartum, and genetic and epigenetic variation in a longitudinal birth-cohort study (n = 262) (Maternal adversity, vulnerability and neurodevelopment project). We used latent class modeling to describe trajectories in maternal depressive symptoms, parenting stress, marital stress and general stress, taking polygenetic risk for major depressive disorder (MDD), a composite score for maternal early life adversities, and prenatal depressive symptoms into account.
Genetic risk for MDD associated with trajectories of maternal well being in the postpartum, conditional on the experience of early life adversities and prenatal symptoms of depression. We will explore whether these trajectories are also linked to DNA methylation patterns in mothers and their offspring. Preliminary analyses suggest that maternal early life adversities associate with offspring DNA methylation age estimates, which is mediated through maternal mental well being and maternal DNA methylation age estimates.
We found relevant gene-environment interactions associated with trajectories of maternal well being. Our findings inform research on mechanisms underlying familial transmission of vulnerability for psychopathology and might thus be relevant to prevention and early intervention programs.
The authors have not supplied their declaration of competing interest.