[Frontiers in Bioscience E2, 43-46, January 1, 2010]

Maternal stress-induced reduction in birth weight as a marker for adult affective state

Daniel L.A. van den Hove1, Gunter Kenis1, Harry W.M. Steinbusch1, Carlos E. Blanco2, Jos Prickaerts1

1Department of Neuroscience, School for Mental Health and Neuroscience (MHeNS), Maastricht University, European Graduate School of Neuroscience (EURON), Universiteitssingel 50, P.O. box 616, 6200 MD, Maastricht, The Netherlands, 2Department of Pediatrics, Research Institute Growth and Development (GROW), Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Maastricht University, P. Debyelaan 25, P.O. box 5800, 6202 AZ, Maastricht, The Netherlands


1. Abstract
2. Introduction
3. Materials and Methods
3.1. Animals and Procedures
3.2. Statistical Analysis
4. Results
5. Discussion
6. Acknowledgements
7. References


It is known that adverse events experienced by a pregnant woman may be reflected upon the developing fetus and adversely affect its mental wellbeing in later life. In a recent study by our group, prenatal stress was associated with a clear increase in anxiety- and depression-related behavior in male, but not female Sprague-Dawley offspring. Since birth weight data were recorded we were able to determine whether birth weight, as an important outcome measure of fetal distress, may be used as a predictive indicator for adult performance. For this purpose, a correlation analysis was performed, aimed at studying the possible link between stress-induced fetal growth restriction and adult affective state. Male birth weight correlated positively to depression-related behavior in the forced swim test. Furthermore, it weight was correlated negatively to basal, and positively to stress-induced, plasma corticosterone levels in adulthood. Female birth weight did not correlate to any of the studied outcome measures. These data suggest that male birth weight may represent a valuable indicative marker for variations in adult affective state with a developmental origin.