FETAL NEUROBEHAVIORAL DEVELOPMENT & POSTNATAL CONTINUITY

Summary

Principal Investigator: J A Dipietro
Affiliation: Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Country: USA
Abstract: The period before birth is the final frontier of investigation in human health and development. Interest in fetal origins of childhood and adult well-being has increased exponentially in recent years. We have been documenting normative development of the fetus for the past 16 years under the auspices of this award. Our goals have, and continue to be, threefold. These include: characterizing normal patterns of development of fetal neurobehavioral and physiological functioning during gestation in healthy, low risk pregnancies (Ontogeny); determining how maternal mediators, both psychological and physiological, affect the course of antenatal development (Maternal Influences), and evaluating within and cross-domain continuity in function from prenatal to postnatal development within individuals as a means of understanding the origins of individual differences (Prediction). This project period will focus on further defining the effects of evoked fetal reactivity on maternal function, and evoked maternal reactivity on fetal functioning. This endeavor was generated by findings in the current project period that revealed temporal, bidirectional linkages within the maternal-fetal pair. Two prenatal studies are proposed. The first (n = 52) examines the capacity of an evoked fetal response generated by auditory stimulus presentation to elicit a maternal physiological response at three gestational periods (24, 30, and 36 weeks). The second (n = 108) evaluates fetal responsivity to maternal arousal evoked within a pregnancy specific context at four gestational periods (18, 24, 30, and 36 weeks). Both studies include indicators of maternal autonomic (heart rate, vagal tone, skin conductance, respiration) and neurohormonal (salivary cortisol) activation; fetal measures focus on heart rate and its patterning, motor activity, and the relation between the two. Pairs will be followed at 5 months postnatal age to determine how features of prenatal maternal-fetal synchrony and responsiveness to one another contribute to the unfolding maternal-infant relationship, as measured by the degree of behavioral and physiological synchrony during an undisturbed, baseline interactive period and a still-face condition designed to disrupt the temporal regulatory process between the pair. This project will further our understanding of the maternal factors that impinge, positively or negatively, on the developing fetus and the origins of the earliest relationship. PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE: There is tremendous recent interest in characterizing how development proceeds before birth and its implications for later life. In this study we will investigate how maternal physiology and emotions affect the development of the fetus and how the developing fetus may affect the pregnant woman. We will apply this information to understanding how mothers interact with their infants during their first year of life.
Funding Period: 1991-08-01 - 2013-02-28
more information: NIH RePORT

Top Publications

  1. ncbi Maternal psychophysiological change during the second half of gestation
    Janet A Dipietro
    Department of Population and Family Health Sciences, Johns Hopkins University, 615 North Wolfe Street, E4531, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA
    Biol Psychol 69:23-38. 2005
  2. ncbi Continuity in self-report measures of maternal anxiety, stress, and depressive symptoms from pregnancy through two years postpartum
    Janet A Dipietro
    John Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA
    J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol 29:115-24. 2008
  3. pmc Prenatal origins of temperamental reactivity in early infancy
    Janet A Dipietro
    Department of Population, Family, and Reproductive Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 615 N Wolfe St, E4531, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA
    Early Hum Dev 84:569-75. 2008
  4. pmc Fetal heart rate and variability: stability and prediction to developmental outcomes in early childhood
    Janet A Dipietro
    Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 615 N Wolfe St, E4531, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA
    Child Dev 78:1788-98. 2007
  5. pmc Fetal responses to induced maternal relaxation during pregnancy
    Janet A Dipietro
    Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health, Johns Hopkins University, 615 North Wolfe Street, Baltimore, MD 21205, United States
    Biol Psychol 77:11-9. 2008
  6. ncbi The relationship between hiccups and heart rate in the fetus
    Frank Witter
    Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21287 1228, USA
    J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med 20:289-92. 2007
  7. ncbi Choroid plexus cysts do not affect fetal neurodevelopment
    J A Dipietro
    Department of Population and Family Health Sciences, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 615 N Wolfe Street, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA
    J Perinatol 26:622-7. 2006
  8. ncbi Prenatal development of intrafetal and maternal-fetal synchrony
    Janet A Dipietro
    Department of Population and Family Health Sciences, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA
    Behav Neurosci 120:687-701. 2006
  9. ncbi Maternal psychological distress during pregnancy in relation to child development at age two
    Janet A Dipietro
    Department of Population and Family Health Sciences, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA
    Child Dev 77:573-87. 2006
  10. ncbi Fetal response to maternal methadone administration
    Lauren M Jansson
    Department of Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA
    Am J Obstet Gynecol 193:611-7. 2005

Detail Information

Publications12

  1. ncbi Maternal psychophysiological change during the second half of gestation
    Janet A Dipietro
    Department of Population and Family Health Sciences, Johns Hopkins University, 615 North Wolfe Street, E4531, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA
    Biol Psychol 69:23-38. 2005
    ..Despite buffered responsivity to stressful stimuli during pregnancy, advancing gestation is associated with escalating sympathetic tone and declining parasympathetic tone...
  2. ncbi Continuity in self-report measures of maternal anxiety, stress, and depressive symptoms from pregnancy through two years postpartum
    Janet A Dipietro
    John Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA
    J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol 29:115-24. 2008
    ..97, p < 0.05; time interaction F (2,174)= 7.15, p < 0.001] to multiparous levels by two years. Results are discussed in terms of a "motherhood" effect on psychological distress...
  3. pmc Prenatal origins of temperamental reactivity in early infancy
    Janet A Dipietro
    Department of Population, Family, and Reproductive Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 615 N Wolfe St, E4531, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA
    Early Hum Dev 84:569-75. 2008
    ..Temperament theory has long considered individual differences in reactivity and regulation to be present at birth. Recent evidence suggests that such differences may be present prenatally and moderated by maternal emotionality...
  4. pmc Fetal heart rate and variability: stability and prediction to developmental outcomes in early childhood
    Janet A Dipietro
    Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 615 N Wolfe St, E4531, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA
    Child Dev 78:1788-98. 2007
    ..5 years (n = 61). These data suggest that the foundations of individual differences in autonomic control originate during gestation and the developmental momentum of the fetal period continues after birth...
  5. pmc Fetal responses to induced maternal relaxation during pregnancy
    Janet A Dipietro
    Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health, Johns Hopkins University, 615 North Wolfe Street, Baltimore, MD 21205, United States
    Biol Psychol 77:11-9. 2008
    ..Potential mechanisms that may mediate the observed results are discussed...
  6. ncbi The relationship between hiccups and heart rate in the fetus
    Frank Witter
    Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21287 1228, USA
    J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med 20:289-92. 2007
    ..The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of fetal hiccups on fetal heart rate from 20 weeks of gestation onward...
  7. ncbi Choroid plexus cysts do not affect fetal neurodevelopment
    J A Dipietro
    Department of Population and Family Health Sciences, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 615 N Wolfe Street, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA
    J Perinatol 26:622-7. 2006
    ..To determine whether an isolated finding of a choroid plexus cyst (CPC) during routine ultrasound is associated with altered fetal growth or development...
  8. ncbi Prenatal development of intrafetal and maternal-fetal synchrony
    Janet A Dipietro
    Department of Population and Family Health Sciences, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA
    Behav Neurosci 120:687-701. 2006
    ..Fetal motor activity exhibited synchrony with both maternal electrodermal and heart rate activity. Implications for revealing fundamental properties of neural development prior to birth are discussed...
  9. ncbi Maternal psychological distress during pregnancy in relation to child development at age two
    Janet A Dipietro
    Department of Population and Family Health Sciences, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA
    Child Dev 77:573-87. 2006
    ..Mild to moderate levels of psychological distress may enhance fetal maturation in healthy populations...
  10. ncbi Fetal response to maternal methadone administration
    Lauren M Jansson
    Department of Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA
    Am J Obstet Gynecol 193:611-7. 2005
    ..The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of methadone on fetal neurobehavioral functions and maternal physiologic indicators...
  11. ncbi Neurobehavioral assessment before birth
    Janet A Dipietro
    Department of Population and Family Health Sciences, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA
    Ment Retard Dev Disabil Res Rev 11:4-13. 2005
    ....
  12. pmc Diurnal rhythm of cortisol during late pregnancy: associations with maternal psychological well-being and fetal growth
    Katie T Kivlighan
    Population, Family, and Reproductive Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 615 North Wolfe Street, Room E4030, Baltimore, MD 21205, United States
    Psychoneuroendocrinology 33:1225-35. 2008
    ..The findings suggest that regulation of the HPA axis may differ by parity status with downstream implications for fetal growth and development...