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Animal and human data demonstrate independent relationships between fetal growth, hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis function (HPA-A) and adult cardiometabolic outcomes. While the association between fetal growth and adult cardiometabolic outcomes is well-established, the role of the HPA-A in these relationships is unclear. This study aims to determine whether HPA-A function mediates or moderates this relationship. Approximately 2900 pregnant women were recruited between 1989-1991 in the Raine Study. Detailed anthropometric data was collected at birth (per cent optimal birthweight [POBW]). The Trier Social Stress Test was administered to the offspring (Generation 2; Gen2) at 18 years; HPA-A responses were determined (reactive responders [RR], anticipatory responders [AR] and non-responders [NR]). Cardiometabolic parameters (BMI, systolic BP [sBP] and LDL cholesterol) were measured at 20 years. Regression modelling demonstrated linear associations between POBW and BMI and sBP; quadratic associations were observed for LDL cholesterol. For every 10% increase in POBW, there was a 0.54 unit increase in BMI (standard error [SE] 0.15) and a 0.65 unit decrease in sBP (SE 0.34). The interaction between participant’s fetal growth and HPA-A phenotype was strongest for sBP in young adulthood. Interactions for BMI and LDL-C were non-significant. Decomposition of the total effect revealed no causal evidence of mediation or moderation.
There is debate about the relative importance of timing of stressful events prenatally and over the life course and risk for subsequent depressive/anxious illness. The aim of this study was to examine the relative roles of prenatal stress and postnatal stress trajectories in predicting depression and anxiety in early adulthood in males and females. Exposure to life stress events was examined in the Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort (Raine) Study during pregnancy and ages 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 10, 14, and 17 years. At age 20, offspring completed the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale. Prenatal stress and trajectories of stress events from age 1 to 17 were analyzed in linear regression analyses. Five postnatal stress trajectories were identified. In females, medium to high chronic stress exposure or exposure during puberty/adolescence predicted depression and anxiety symptoms while low or reduced stress exposure over the life course did not, after adjustment for relevant confounders. High stress early in pregnancy contributed to male depression/anxiety symptoms independent of postnatal stress trajectory. In females, postnatal stress trajectory was more important than prenatal stress in predicting depression/anxiety symptoms. Interventions focused on reducing and managing stress events around conception/pregnancy and exposure to chronic stress are likely to have beneficial outcomes on rates of depression and anxiety in adults.
Twin–twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS) is an antenatal complication of monochorionic multiple gestations. There have been few studies exploring the role of laser photocoagulation or outcomes following treatment in monochorionic triplet pregnancies with TTTS. We present a case where TTTS and twin anemia–polycythemia sequence (TAPS) complicated a monochorionic triplet pregnancy. Following the laser photocoagulation to treat the TTTS between the triplets, an intra-uterine death occurred in one triplet and TAPS developed in the remaining two triplets. Intervention in this case resulted in a 2-week prolongation of pregnancy and a positive outcome for the remaining fetuses. This case and other published data reviewed in this article suggest that laser photocoagulation has a potential role for TTTS in monochorionic triplet pregnancies.
The maternal experience of stressful events during pregnancy has been associated with a number of adverse consequences for behavioral development in offspring, but the measurement and interpretation of prenatal stress varies among reported studies. The Raine Study recruited 2900 pregnancies and recorded life stress events experienced by 18 and 34 weeks' gestation along with numerous sociodemographic data. The mother's exposure to life stress events was further documented when the children were followed-up in conjunction with behavioral assessments at ages 2, 5, 8, 10, and 14 years using the Child Behavior Checklist. The maternal experience of multiple stressful events during pregnancy was associated with subsequent behavioral problems for offspring. Independent (e.g., death of a relative, job loss) and dependent stress events (e.g., financial problems, marital problems) were both significantly associated with a greater incidence of mental health morbidity between age 2 and 14 years. Exposure to stressful events in the first 18 weeks of pregnancy showed similar associations with subsequent total and externalizing morbidity to events reported at 34 weeks of gestation. These results were independent of postnatal stress exposure. Improved support for women with chronic stress exposure during pregnancy may improve the mental health of their offspring in later life.
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