Lifetime exposure to traumatic and other stressful life events and hair cortisol in a multi-racial/ethnic sample of pregnant women

Hannah M. C. Schreier, Michelle Bosquet Enlow, Thomas Ritz, Brent A. Coull, Chris Gennings, Robert O. Wright, Rosalind J. Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

25 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We examined whether lifetime exposure to stressful and traumatic events alters hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis functioning, as indexed by hair cortisol, regardless of associated psychopathology, among pregnant women of different racial/ethnic backgrounds. 180 women provided hair samples for measurement of integrated cortisol levels throughout pregnancy and information regarding their lifetime exposure to stressful and traumatic life events. Results indicate that increased lifetime exposure to traumatic events was associated with significantly greater hair cortisol over the course of pregnancy. Similarly, greater lifetime exposure to stressful and traumatic events weighted by reported negative impact (over the previous 12 months) was associated with significantly greater hair cortisol during pregnancy. All analyses controlled for maternal age, education, body mass index (BMI), use of inhaled corticosteroids, race/ethnicity, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depressive symptoms. Following stratification by race/ethnicity, associations between stressful and traumatic life events and hair cortisol were found among Black women only. This is the first study to consider associations between lifetime stress exposures and hair cortisol in a sociodemographically diverse sample of pregnant women. Increased exposure to stressful and traumatic events, independent of PTSD and depressive symptoms, was associated with higher cortisol production, particularly in Black women. Future research should investigate the influence of such increased cortisol exposure on developmental outcomes among offspring.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-52
Number of pages8
JournalStress
Volume19
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2 2016

Fingerprint

Hair
Hydrocortisone
Pregnant Women
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders
Pregnancy
Depression
Maternal Age
Psychopathology
Adrenal Cortex Hormones
Body Mass Index
Education

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

Cite this

Schreier, Hannah M. C. ; Bosquet Enlow, Michelle ; Ritz, Thomas ; Coull, Brent A. ; Gennings, Chris ; Wright, Robert O. ; Wright, Rosalind J. / Lifetime exposure to traumatic and other stressful life events and hair cortisol in a multi-racial/ethnic sample of pregnant women. In: Stress. 2016 ; Vol. 19, No. 1. pp. 45-52.
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Lifetime exposure to traumatic and other stressful life events and hair cortisol in a multi-racial/ethnic sample of pregnant women. / Schreier, Hannah M. C.; Bosquet Enlow, Michelle; Ritz, Thomas; Coull, Brent A.; Gennings, Chris; Wright, Robert O.; Wright, Rosalind J.

In: Stress, Vol. 19, No. 1, 02.01.2016, p. 45-52.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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