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Prenatal Maternal Cortisol Levels and Infant Birth Weight in a Predominately Low-Income Hispanic Cohort.

Infant birth weight influences numerous health outcomes throughout the life course including childhood obesity and metabolic morbidities. Maternal experience of stress, both before and during pregnancy, has been hypothesized to influence fetal growth and birth outcomes. However, these associations currently are not fully understood, due to conflicting results in the published literature. Salivary cortisol is often used as a biological biomarker to assess the diurnal pattern of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA-axis) functioning. Cortisol metrics include both the total cortisol concentration secreted during waking hours, reflected by the area under the curve (AUC), and cortisol dynamics, which include the diurnal cortisol slope (DCS) and the cortisol awakening response (CAR). This study examined the association of these cortisol metrics measured during the third trimester of pregnancy and infant birth weight among 240 mother-infant dyads participating in the Maternal and Developmental Risks from Environmental and Social Stressors (MADRES) pregnancy cohort study, which is predominately comprised of Hispanic low-income women. There were no significant associations with the maternal biological stress response and infant birth weight in this study. More research is needed in larger studies to better understand how the biological stress response influences birth weight in populations facing health disparities.

Authors: Peterson, Alicia K; Toledo-Corral, Claudia M.; Chavez, Thomas A; Naya, Christine H; Johnson, Mark; Eckel, Sandrah P; Lerner, Deborah; Grubbs, Brendan H; Farzan, Shohreh F; Dunton, Genevieve F; Bastain, Theresa M; Breton, Carrie V

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Sep 21;17(18). pii: ijerph17186896. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17186896.

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