Maternal lipids in pregnancy are associated with increased offspring cortisol reactivity in childhood

Theresia H Mina, Marius Lahti, Amanda J Drake, Shareen Forbes, Fiona C Denison, Katri Räikkönen, Jane E Norman, Rebecca M Reynolds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Prenatal programming of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activity has long term implications for offspring health. Biological mechanisms underlying programming of the offspring HPA axis are poorly understood. We hypothesised that altered maternal metabolism including higher maternal obesity, glucose and lipids are novel programming factors for altered offspring HPA axis activity. Salivary cortisol levels were measured in 54 children aged 3-5 years under experimental conditions (before and after a delay of self-gratification test). Associations of child cortisol responses with maternal obesity in early pregnancy and with fasting glucose, triglycerides, HDL and total cholesterol measured in each pregnancy trimester were tested. Higher levels of maternal triglycerides and total cholesterol throughout pregnancy were associated with increased offspring cortisol reactivity. The associations were independent of maternal obesity and other confounders, suggesting that exposure to maternal lipids could be a biological mechanism of in utero programming of the offspring's HPA axis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-83
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2017

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2017. Published by Elsevier Ltd.


  • Blood Glucose
  • Child, Preschool
  • Delay Discounting
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone/analysis
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System/metabolism
  • Lipids/adverse effects
  • Male
  • Maternal Inheritance/physiology
  • Obesity/complications
  • Pituitary-Adrenal System/metabolism
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications/metabolism
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects/metabolism
  • Saliva
  • Scotland
  • Stress, Psychological/metabolism
  • Triglycerides/metabolism


Dive into the research topics of 'Maternal lipids in pregnancy are associated with increased offspring cortisol reactivity in childhood'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this