Effects of maternal stress and nutrient restriction during gestation on offspring neuroanatomy in humans

Katja Franke, Bea R.H. Van den Bergh, Susanne R. de Rooij, Nasim Kroegel, Peter W. Nathanielsz, Florian Rakers, Tessa J. Roseboom, Otto W. Witte, Matthias Schwab

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Cognitive and mental health are major determinants of quality of life, allowing integration into society at all ages. Human epidemiological and animal studies indicate that in addition to genetic factors and lifestyle, prenatal environmental influences may program neuropsychiatric disorders in later life. While several human studies have examined the effects of prenatal stress and nutrient restriction on brain function and mental health in later life, potentially mediating effects of prenatal stress and nutrient restriction on offspring neuroanatomy in humans have been studied only in recent years. Based on neuroimaging and anatomical data, we comprehensively review the studies in this emerging field. We relate prenatal environmental influences to neuroanatomical abnormalities in the offspring, measured in utero and throughout life. We also assess the relationship between neuroanatomical abnormalities and cognitive and mental disorders. Timing- and gender-specific effects are considered, if reported. Our review provides evidence for adverse effects of an unfavorable prenatal environment on structural brain development that may contribute to the risk for cognitive, behavioral and mental health problems throughout life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalNeuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Brain development
  • Brain morphology
  • Maternal anxiety
  • Maternal depression
  • Maternal stress
  • MRI
  • Nutrient restriction
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal malnutrition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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