Advancing gestation does not attenuate biobehavioural coherence between psychological distress and cortisol

G.F. Giesbrecht, T. Campbell, N. Letourneau, B.J. Kaplan, the APrON Study Team, V.J.M. Pop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Background
Despite little evidence to suggest that HPA axis responses to psychological provocation are attenuated during pregnancy, it is widely held that dampening of the HPA axis response to psychological distress serves a protective function for the mother and fetus. The current study was designed to assess changes in biobehavioral coherence between psychological distress and cortisol over the course of pregnancy.
Methods
Ambulatory assessment of ecologically relevant psychological distress and salivary cortisol were repeated in all three trimesters for 82 pregnant women. Samples were collected 5 times per day over the course of 2 days in each trimester.
Results
Psychological distress and cortisol were positively associated, β = .024, p < .01, indicating that increases in psychological distress were associated with increases in cortisol. Gestational age did not moderate this association, β = .0009, p = .13, suggesting that negative psychological experiences remain potent stimuli for the HPA axis during pregnancy.
Conclusion
Biobehavioral coherence between ecologically relevant experiences of psychological distress and cortisol is not attenuated with advancing gestation.
Highlights
► We assess changes in the association between psychological distress and cortisol over the course of pregnancy.
► Psychological distress was associated with cortisol throughout pregnancy.
► Psychological experiences remain potent stimuli for the HPA axis during pregnancy.
► Advancing gestation does not protect the mother or fetus from the psychobiological effects of distress.
Keywords: Psychological distress, Salivary cortisol, Pregnancy, Stress response, HPA axis, Biobehavioural coherence
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-51
JournalBiological Psychology
Volume93
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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Giesbrecht, G.F. ; Campbell, T. ; Letourneau, N. ; Kaplan, B.J. ; APrON Study Team, the ; Pop, V.J.M. / Advancing gestation does not attenuate biobehavioural coherence between psychological distress and cortisol. In: Biological Psychology. 2013 ; Vol. 93, No. 1. pp. 45-51.
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abstract = "BackgroundDespite little evidence to suggest that HPA axis responses to psychological provocation are attenuated during pregnancy, it is widely held that dampening of the HPA axis response to psychological distress serves a protective function for the mother and fetus. The current study was designed to assess changes in biobehavioral coherence between psychological distress and cortisol over the course of pregnancy.MethodsAmbulatory assessment of ecologically relevant psychological distress and salivary cortisol were repeated in all three trimesters for 82 pregnant women. Samples were collected 5 times per day over the course of 2 days in each trimester.ResultsPsychological distress and cortisol were positively associated, β = .024, p < .01, indicating that increases in psychological distress were associated with increases in cortisol. Gestational age did not moderate this association, β = .0009, p = .13, suggesting that negative psychological experiences remain potent stimuli for the HPA axis during pregnancy.ConclusionBiobehavioral coherence between ecologically relevant experiences of psychological distress and cortisol is not attenuated with advancing gestation.Highlights► We assess changes in the association between psychological distress and cortisol over the course of pregnancy. ► Psychological distress was associated with cortisol throughout pregnancy. ► Psychological experiences remain potent stimuli for the HPA axis during pregnancy. ► Advancing gestation does not protect the mother or fetus from the psychobiological effects of distress.Keywords: Psychological distress, Salivary cortisol, Pregnancy, Stress response, HPA axis, Biobehavioural coherence",
author = "G.F. Giesbrecht and T. Campbell and N. Letourneau and B.J. Kaplan and {APrON Study Team}, the and V.J.M. Pop",
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Advancing gestation does not attenuate biobehavioural coherence between psychological distress and cortisol. / Giesbrecht, G.F.; Campbell, T.; Letourneau, N.; Kaplan, B.J.; APrON Study Team, the; Pop, V.J.M.

In: Biological Psychology, Vol. 93, No. 1, 2013, p. 45-51.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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AB - BackgroundDespite little evidence to suggest that HPA axis responses to psychological provocation are attenuated during pregnancy, it is widely held that dampening of the HPA axis response to psychological distress serves a protective function for the mother and fetus. The current study was designed to assess changes in biobehavioral coherence between psychological distress and cortisol over the course of pregnancy.MethodsAmbulatory assessment of ecologically relevant psychological distress and salivary cortisol were repeated in all three trimesters for 82 pregnant women. Samples were collected 5 times per day over the course of 2 days in each trimester.ResultsPsychological distress and cortisol were positively associated, β = .024, p < .01, indicating that increases in psychological distress were associated with increases in cortisol. Gestational age did not moderate this association, β = .0009, p = .13, suggesting that negative psychological experiences remain potent stimuli for the HPA axis during pregnancy.ConclusionBiobehavioral coherence between ecologically relevant experiences of psychological distress and cortisol is not attenuated with advancing gestation.Highlights► We assess changes in the association between psychological distress and cortisol over the course of pregnancy. ► Psychological distress was associated with cortisol throughout pregnancy. ► Psychological experiences remain potent stimuli for the HPA axis during pregnancy. ► Advancing gestation does not protect the mother or fetus from the psychobiological effects of distress.Keywords: Psychological distress, Salivary cortisol, Pregnancy, Stress response, HPA axis, Biobehavioural coherence

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