Maternal resilience predicts longer newborn telomere length
The psychological resilience of mothers appears to have a healthy effect on the telomere biology of their offspring, stressing the importance of improving maternal mental health and well-being during pregnancy, reveals a study.
The investigators conducted several serial assessments in a total of 656 mother-child dyads from the Prediction and Prevention of Pre-eclampsia and Intrauterine Growth Restriction cohort over the course of pregnancy. They quantified maternal stress, negative and positive emotional responses to pregnancy events, positive affect, and perceived social support.
Two latent factors—stress and positivity—were identified by principal component analysis. The investigators computed a measure of resilience by regressing the positivity factor on the stress factor in order to quantify positivity after accounting for stress. They measured telomere length (TL) using quantitative polymerase chain reaction in leukocytes extracted from cord blood shortly after birth.
Finally, linear regression was applied to predict newborn TL from maternal resilience during pregnancy, adjusting for other potential determinants.
Maternal stress was significantly predictive of shorter newborn TL (β, –0.079). On the other hand, positivity significantly predicted longer TL in offspring (β, 0.135).
Maternal resilience (positivity accounting for stress) showed a significant and positive association with newborn TL (β, 0.114, 95 percent confidence interval, 0.035–0.189), with each standard deviation increase in resilience predicting 12-percent longer newborn TL.
“In the context of the importance of elucidating the determinants of the initial, newborn setting of TL, it is increasingly evident that maternal stress and stress-related processes during pregnancy play a major role,” the investigators said.