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Negative emotionality (NE) was evaluated as a candidate mechanism linking prenatal maternal affective symptoms and offspring internalizing problems during the preschool/early school age period. The participants were 335 mother–infant dyads from the Maternal Adversity, Vulnerability and Neurodevelopment project. A Confirmatory Bifactor Analysis (CFA) based on self-report measures of prenatal depression and pregnancy-specific anxiety generated a general factor representing overlapping symptoms of prenatal maternal psychopathology and four distinct symptom factors representing pregnancy-specific anxiety, negative affect, anhedonia and somatization. NE was rated by the mother at 18 and 36 months. CFA based on measures of father, mother, child-rated measures and a semistructured interview generated a general internalizing factor representing overlapping symptoms of child internalizing psychopathology accounting for the unique contribution of each informant. Path analyses revealed significant relationships among the general maternal affective psychopathology, the pregnancy- specific anxiety, and the child internalizing factors. Child NE mediated only the relationship between pregnancy-specific anxiety and the child internalizing factors. We highlighted the conditions in which prenatal maternal affective symptoms predicts child internalizing problems emerging early in development, including consideration of different mechanistic pathways for different maternal prenatal symptom presentations and child temperament.
Maternal antenatal depression strongly influences child mental health but with considerable inter-individual variation that is, in part, linked to genotype. The challenge is to effectively capture the genotypic influence. We outline a novel approach to describe genomic susceptibility to maternal antenatal depression focusing on child emotional/behavioral difficulties. Two cohorts provided measures of maternal depression, child genetic variation, and child mental health symptoms. We constructed a conventional polygenic risk score (PRS) for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) (PRSADHD) that significantly moderated the association between maternal antenatal depression and internalizing problems at 60 months (p = 2.94 × 10−4, R2 = .18). We then constructed an interaction PRS (xPRS) based on a subset of those single nucleotide polymorphisms from the PRSADHD that most accounted for the moderation of the association between maternal antenatal depression and child outcome. The interaction between maternal antenatal depression and this xPRS accounted for a larger proportion of the variance in child emotional/behavioral problems than models based on any PRSADHD (p = 5.50 × 10−9, R2 = .27), with similar findings in the replication cohort. The xPRS was significantly enriched for genes involved in neuronal development and synaptic function. Our study illustrates a novel approach to the study of genotypic moderation on the impact of maternal antenatal depression on child mental health and highlights the utility of the xPRS approach. These findings advance our understanding of individual differences in the developmental origins of mental health.
We examined maternal depression and maternal sensitivity as mediators of the association between maternal childhood adversity and her child's temperament in 239 mother–child dyads from a longitudinal, birth cohort study. We used an integrated measure of maternal childhood adversity that included the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire and the Parental Bonding Index. Maternal depression was assessed with the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale at 6 months postpartum. Maternal sensitivity was assessed with the Ainsworth maternal sensitivity scales at 6 months. A measure of “negative emotionality/behavioral dysregulation” was derived from the Early Childhood Behaviour Questionnaire administered at 36 months. Bootstrapping-based mediation analyses revealed that maternal depression mediated the effect of maternal childhood adversity on offspring negative emotionality/behavioral dysregulation (95% confidence interval [0.026, 0.144]). We also found a serial, indirect effect of maternal childhood adversity on child negative emotionality/behavioral mediated first by maternal depression and then by maternal sensitivity (95% confidence interval [0.031, 0.156]). Results suggest the intergenerational transmission of the effects of maternal childhood adversity to the offspring occurs through a two-step, serial pathway, involving maternal depression and maternal sensitivity.
Prenatal adversity shapes child neurodevelopment and risk for later mental health problems. The quality of the early care environment can buffer some of the negative effects of prenatal adversity on child development. Retrospective studies, in adult samples, highlight epigenetic modifications as sentinel markers of the quality of the early care environment; however, comparable data from pediatric cohorts are lacking. Participants were drawn from the Maternal Adversity Vulnerability and Neurodevelopment (MAVAN) study, a longitudinal cohort with measures of infant attachment, infant development, and child mental health. Children provided buccal epithelial samples (mean age = 6.99, SD = 1.33 years, n = 226), which were used for analyses of genome-wide DNA methylation and genetic variation. We used a series of linear models to describe the association between infant attachment and (a) measures of child outcome and (b) DNA methylation across the genome. Paired genetic data was used to determine the genetic contribution to DNA methylation at attachment-associated sites. Infant attachment style was associated with infant cognitive development (Mental Development Index) and behavior (Behavior Rating Scale) assessed with the Bayley Scales of Infant Development at 36 months. Infant attachment style moderated the effects of prenatal adversity on Behavior Rating Scale scores at 36 months. Infant attachment was also significantly associated with a principal component that accounted for 11.9% of the variation in genome-wide DNA methylation. These effects were most apparent when comparing children with a secure versus a disorganized attachment style and most pronounced in females. The availability of paired genetic data revealed that DNA methylation at approximately half of all infant attachment-associated sites was best explained by considering both infant attachment and child genetic variation. This study provides further evidence that infant attachment can buffer some of the negative effects of early adversity on measures of infant behavior. We also highlight the interplay between infant attachment and child genotype in shaping variation in DNA methylation. Such findings provide preliminary evidence for a molecular signature of infant attachment and may help inform attachment-focused early intervention programs.
Studies have investigated the potential protective effects that diet may have on late-life depression incidence. This disorder can, however, affect the person’s food intake, widely known as the reverse causality hypothesis of depression. To test this hypothesis, we compared mean nutrient intakes from three 24-h recalls during the year depression was detected (Geriatric Depression Scale ≥11 or antidepressant medication) with intakes from 1 year earlier among community-dwelling older adults (67–83 years) followed up annually in the 4-year Québec Longitudinal Study on Nutrition and Aging, who were free of depression and cognitive impairment at baseline. Participants (n 158, 64·4 % female) who became depressed and had data available for all follow-up years were matched by age group and sex with non-depressed participants. General linear mixed models were adjusted for percentage changes in physical activity, functional autonomy and stressful life events reported at the time of positive screening. A significant group effect for the dietary intake of all three B-vitamins was observed, as depression cases had consistently lower dietary intakes than controls (P<0·01). Over time, intakes of dietary vitamin B12 declined within depressed participants in bivariate analysis, but there was no time×group effect for any nutrient tested in the multivariate analyses. Intakes of energy, protein, saturated fat and total dietary fibre did not change in cases v. controls. Among community-dwelling older adults, declines in dietary vitamins B6, B12 and folate may precede depression incidence. To help preventative efforts by programmes and practitioners, longitudinal cohorts of longer duration should investigate the extent of the decline in dietary intakes relative to the time of depression.
Prenatal maternal depression and a multilocus genetic profile of two susceptibility genes implicated in the stress response were examined in an interaction model predicting negative emotionality in the first 3 years. In 179 mother–infant dyads from the Maternal Adversity, Vulnerability, and Neurodevelopment cohort, prenatal depression (Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depressions Scale) was assessed at 24 to 36 weeks. The multilocus genetic profile score consisted of the number of susceptibility alleles from the serotonin transporter linked polymorphic region gene (5-HTTLPR): no long-rs25531(A) (LA: short/short, short/long-rs25531(G) [LG], or LG/LG] vs. any LA) and the dopamine receptor D4 gene (six to eight repeats vs. two to five repeats). Negative emotionality was extracted from the Infant Behaviour Questionnaire—Revised at 3 and 6 months and the Early Child Behavior Questionnaire at 18 and 36 months. Mixed and confirmatory regression analyses indicated that prenatal depression and the multilocus genetic profile interacted to predict negative emotionality from 3 to 36 months. The results were characterized by a differential susceptibility model at 3 and 6 months and by a diathesis–stress model at 36 months.
The objective of this study was to assess the relationship between the quality of mastication and dietary intake among community-dwelling older adults (67-84 years). A secondary analysis of data collected upon entry of participants in the NuAge study was effected. Perceived masticatory efficiency (n=1793) was measured using a questionnaire inspired by the Oral Health Impact Profile. Direct assessment of masticatory efficiency was carried out in a subsample (n=94), using a validated clinical test (Swallowing Threshold Test Index, 0-100%). Dietary intake was calculated from three non-consecutive 24h recalls. Mean scores indicate good perceived masticatory efficiency (Men:26.22±0.19/28;Women:25.81±0.21/28), but weak assessed efficiency (Men:60.8% [CI(57.3-64.2)]; Women:61.2% [CI(57.7-64.7)]). Multivariate regression analysis, adjusting for confounding variables (age, sex, schooling, living alone, income, smoking, chronic conditions, functional autonomy), showed that masticatory efficiency (measured or perceived) was not associated with intake of fruits/vegetables, protein, vitamin C or folic acid.
Disorganized attachment is an important early risk factor for socioemotional problems throughout childhood and into adulthood. Prevailing models of the etiology of disorganized attachment emphasize the role of highly dysfunctional parenting, to the exclusion of complex models examining the interplay of child and parental factors. Decades of research have established that extreme child birth weight may have long-term effects on developmental processes. These effects are typically negative, but this is not always the case. Recent studies have also identified the dopamine D4 receptor (DRD4) as a moderator of childrearing effects on the development of disorganized attachment. However, there are inconsistent findings concerning which variant of the polymorphism (seven-repeat long-form allele or non–seven-repeat short-form allele) is most likely to interact with caregiving in predicting disorganized versus organized attachment. In this study, we examined possible two- and three-way interactions and child DRD4 polymorphisms and birth weight and maternal caregiving at age 6 months in longitudinally predicting attachment disorganization at 36 months. Our sample is from the Maternal Adversity, Vulnerability and Neurodevelopment project, a sample of 650 mother–child dyads. Birth weight was cross-referenced with normative data to calculate birth weight percentile. Infant DRD4 was obtained with buccal swabs and categorized according to the presence of the putative allele seven repeat. Macroanalytic and microanalytic measures of maternal behavior were extracted from a videotaped session of 20 min of nonfeeding interaction followed by a 10-min divided attention maternal task at 6 months. Attachment was assessed at 36 months using the Strange Situation procedure, and categorized into disorganized attachment and others. The results indicated that a main effect for DRD4 and a two-way interaction of birth weight and 6-month maternal attention (frequency of maternal looking away behavior) and sensitivity predicted disorganized attachment in robust logistic regression models adjusted for social demographic covariates. Specifically, children in the midrange of birth weight were more likely to develop a disorganized attachment when exposed to less attentive maternal care. However, the association reversed with extreme birth weight (low and high). The DRD4 seven-repeat allele was associated with less disorganized attachment (protective), while non–seven-repeat children were more likely to be classified as disorganized attachment. The implications for understanding inconsistencies in the literature about which DRD4 genotype is the risk direction are also considered. Suggestions for intervention with families with infants at different levels of biological risk and caregiving risk are also discussed.
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