Biological and Behavioral Pathways From Prenatal Depression to Offspring Cardiometabolic Risk: Testing the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease Hypothesis

Jenalee R. Doom, Lilly Belle K. Deer, Dana Dabelea, Monique K. LeBourgeois, Julie C. Lumeng, Corby K. Martin, Benjamin L. Hankin, Elysia Poggi Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Given prior literature focused on the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease framework, there is strong rationale to hypothesize that reducing depression in the prenatal period will cause improvements in offspring cardiometabolic health. The current review outlines evidence that prenatal depression is associated with offspring cardiometabolic risk and health behaviors. We review evidence of these associations in humans and in nonhuman animals at multiple developmental periods, from the prenatal period (maternal preeclampsia, gestational diabetes), neonatal period (preterm birth, small size at birth), infancy (rapid weight gain), childhood and adolescence (high blood pressure, impaired glucose–insulin homeostasis, unfavorable lipid profiles, abdominal obesity), and into adulthood (diabetes, cardiovascular disease). In addition to these cardiometabolic outcomes, we focus on health behaviors associated with cardiometabolic risk, such as child eating behaviors, diet, physical activity, and sleep health. Our review focuses on child behaviors (e.g., emotional eating, preference for highly palatable foods, short sleep duration) and parenting behaviors (e.g., pressuring child to eat, modeling of health behaviors). These changes in health behaviors may be detected before changes to cardiometabolic outcomes, which may allow for early identification of and prevention for children at risk for poor adult cardiometabolic outcomes. We also discuss the methods of the ongoing Care Project, which is a randomized clinical trial to test whether reducing prenatal maternal depression improves offspring’s cardiometabolic health and health behaviors in preschool. The goal of this review and the Care Project are to inform future research, interventions, and policies that support prenatal mental health and offspring cardiometabolic health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalDevelopmental psychology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

Keywords

  • cardiometabolic risk
  • developmental origins of health and disease
  • intergenerational transmission
  • prenatal depression
  • prenatal development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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