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Prenatal maternal cortisol measures predict learning and short-term memory performance in 3- but not 5-month-old infants.

Authors
  • Thompson, Laura A1
  • Morgan, Gin1
  • Unger, Cynthia A1
  • Covey, LeeAnna A1
  • 1 New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico. , (Mexico)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Developmental Psychobiology
Publisher
Wiley (John Wiley & Sons)
Publication Date
Sep 01, 2017
Volume
59
Issue
6
Pages
723–737
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1002/dev.21530
PMID: 28691735
Source
Medline
Keywords
License
Unknown

Abstract

Little is known about relations between maternal prenatal stress and specific cognitive processes-learning and memory-in infants. A modified crib-mobile task was employed in a longitudinal design to test relations between maternal prenatal cortisol, prenatal subjective stress and anxiety, psychosocial variables, and learning and memory in 3- and 5-month-old infants. Results revealed that maternal prenatal cortisol was affected by particular psychosocial variables (e.g., maternal age, whether or not the infant's grandmother provided childcare, financial status), but was unrelated to measures of maternal depression, anxiety, and stress. Although maternal prenatal cortisol was not predictive of learning or memory performance in 5-month-old infants, higher levels of basal maternal cortisol and reduced prenatal cortisol response was predictive of some learning and short-term memory measures in 3-month-old infants. These results suggest an influence of maternal neuroendocrine functioning on fetal neurological development, and the importance of separate examination of subjective and biological measures of stress.

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