Background and aims: Previous studies suggest that psychological distress during pregnancy may lead to fetal developmental adaptations, which programme cardio-metabolic disease of the offspring. We examined the associations of maternal overall psychological distress, depression and anxiety during pregnancy with cardio-metabolic risk factors in 10-year-old children and explore potential sex-specific differences.
Methods and results: In a population-based prospective cohort study among 4,088 mothers and their children, information about overall psychological distress, including depression and anxiety was obtained through the Brief Symptom Inventory during pregnancy. We measured child blood pressure and heart rate and insulin, glucose, serum lipids and C-reactive protein blood concentrations at 10 years. Analyses were performed in the total group and in boys and girls separately. Psychological distress during pregnancy was associated with higher childhood heart rate among boys only (differences 0.34 (95% Confidence Interval (CI) 0.18, 0.50) standard deviation scores (SDS), 0.22 (95% CI 0.06, 0.38) SDS, 0.33 (95% CI 0.19, 0.48) SDS, for overall psychological distress, depression and anxiety, respectively). Maternal anxiety during pregnancy was associated with higher childhood triglycerides among girls (difference 0.35 (95% CI 0.17, 0.53) SDS). Maternal psychological distress was not associated with childhood blood pressure, cholesterol, insulin, glucose and C-reactive protein concentrations.
Conclusions: Maternal psychological distress may influence their offspring heart rate and triglycerides concentrations. Further studies are needed to replicate these findings and assess the long-term cardio-metabolic consequences of maternal psychological distress.

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Keywords psychological distress, pregnancy, cardio-metabolic risk, children, heart rate, blood pressure, cholesterol
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Journal Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases
C.C.V. Silva, Vehmeijer, F.O.L, El Marroun, H, Felix, J.F, Jaddoe, V.W.V, & S. Santos. (2019). Maternal psychological distress during pregnancy and childhood cardio-metabolic risk factors. Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases. doi:10.1016/j.numecd.2019.02.008