Negative emotionality and cortisol during adolescent pregnancy and its effects on infant health and autonomic nervous system reactivity

Angelo Ponirakis, Elizabeth J. Susman, Cynthia A. Stifter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

68 Scopus citations

Abstract

This research examined the relations among maternal emotionality, biology, and infant outcome and autonomic nervous system reactivity (cardiac vagal tone). The sample consisted of 27 pregnant adolescents and their 3- week-old infants. Measures of anxiety, depression, anger, and saliva cortisol were obtained from the adolescents both pre- and postnatally. Infant outcome measures consisted of gestational age at delivery, birth weight, number of risk factors at birth and at 24 hr, Apgar score at 1 and 5 min, abnormalities on newborn physical exam, number of resuscitation measures used on the infant, and cardiac vagal tone. Significant relations were found among the adolescent's emotionality, infant physical outcomes, and cardiac vagal tone. Higher concentrations of adolescent cortisol were associated with lower infant Apgar scores and an increased need for resuscitation measures performed on the infant. The positive association between negative emotions and better infant outcomes also was found and may reflect the sensitivity of the adolescents to their feelings and needs during pregnancy. Social support during pregnancy mediated the effects of maternal negative emotionality and infant cardiac vagal tone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)163-174
Number of pages12
JournalDevelopmental psychobiology
Volume33
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 15 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Developmental Biology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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