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Prenatal Stress and Child Development

  • Examines prenatal stress (e.g., epigenetics, inflammatory processes, early brain development, brain-gut microbiome) and child development;

  • Discusses prenatal stressors affecting pregnancy (e.g., maternal depression, anxiety);

  • Explores effects of prenatal stress on cognitive, affective, behavioural, and neurological development;

  • Addresses core questions related to vulnerability, adaptation, and resilience, along with complex modelling of gene and environment interactions;

  • Provides interventions to reduce negative behaviours and promote optimal outcomes in children

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eBook USD 149.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-3-030-60159-1
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Softcover Book USD 199.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book USD 199.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)

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Table of contents (21 chapters)

  1. Front Matter

    Pages i-xxviii
  2. Introduction and Epidemiology

    1. Front Matter

      Pages 1-1
    2. Prenatal Stress and Child Development – Pathways, Mechanisms and Interventions

      • Tim F. Oberlander, Eszter Székely, Ashley Wazana
      Pages 3-12
    3. Epidemiology of Prenatal Stress: Depression and Anxiety

      • Jonathan Evans, Henning Tiemeier
      Pages 13-19
  3. Mechanisms and Moderators

    1. Front Matter

      Pages 21-21
    2. Prenatal Programming in the Fetus and Placenta

      • Pamela Scorza, Colleen Doyle, Catherine Monk
      Pages 53-88
    3. Epigenetic Effects of Prenatal Stress

      • Isabelle Mueller, Nila Shakiba, Mindy A. Brown, Sheila E. Crowel, Elisabeth Conradt
      Pages 89-111
    4. Intergenerational Transmission of Parental Early Life Stress

      • Nora K. Moog, Pathik D. Wadhwa, Claudia Buss
      Pages 113-130
    5. Prenatal Stress and Child Health: Immune Models and Mechanisms

      • Thomas G. O’Connor, Ana Vallejo Sefair
      Pages 131-163
    6. The Microbiome-Gut-Brain Axis: A New Window to View the Impact of Prenatal Stress on Early Neurodevelopment

      • Naama Rotem-Kohavi, James Keane, Gerard Clarke, Timothy G. Dinan, John F. Cryan, Fergus P. McCarthy et al.
      Pages 165-191
    7. Prenatal Programming of Neurodevelopment: Structural and Functional Changes

      • Catherine H. Demers, Özlü Aran, Laura M. Glynn, Elysia Poggi Davis
      Pages 193-242
    8. Sex-Specific Impacts of Prenatal Stress

      • Emily S. Barrett, Jeremy Lessing
      Pages 243-277
    9. Stress in Fetal Life Ex Utero: Very Preterm Infants

      • Terri A. Levine, Ruth E. Grunau
      Pages 279-315
    10. Gestational Stress and Parenting: A Review of Human and Animal Literature

      • Katherine Cost, Patrick McGowan, Jodi Pawluski
      Pages 317-346
  4. Modelling Plasticity, Resilience, and the Role of the Environment

    1. Front Matter

      Pages 347-347
    2. Prenatal Programming of Postnatal Plasticity

      • Sarah Hartman, Jay Belsky
      Pages 349-385
    3. Statistical Modeling of GxE

      • Alexia Jolicoeur-Martineau, James J. Li, Celia M. T. Greenwood
      Pages 433-466
  5. Clinical Directions

    1. Front Matter

      Pages 467-467

About this book

This book examines the complex impact of prenatal stress and the mechanism of its transmission on children’s development and well-being, including prenatal programming, epigenetics, infl ammatory processes, and the brain-gut microbiome. It analyzes current findings on prenatal stressors affecting pregnancy, including preconception stress, prenatal maternal depression, anxiety, and pregnancy-specific anxieties. Chapters explore how prenatal stress affects cognitive, affective, behavioral, and neurobiological development in children while pinpointing core processes of adaptation, resilience, and interventions that may reduce negative behaviors and promote optimal outcomes in children. Th is complex perspective on mechanisms by which early environmental influences interact with prenatal programming of susceptibility aims to inform clinical strategies and future research targeting prenatal stress and its cyclical impact on subsequent generations.

Key areas of coverage include:

  • The developmental effects of prenatal maternal stress on children.
  • Epigenetic effects of prenatal stress.
  • Intergenerational transmission of parental early life stress.
  • The microbiome-gut-brain axis and the effects of prenatal stress on early neurodevelopment.
  • The effect of prenatal stress on parenting.
  • Gestational stress and resilience.
  • Prenatal stress and children’s sleeping behavior.
  • Prenatal, perinatal, and population-based interventions to prevent psychopathology.

Prenatal Stress and Child Development is an essential resource for researchers, professors and graduate students as well as clinicians, therapists, and related professionals in infancy and early childhood development, maternal and child health, developmental psychology, pediatrics, social work, child and adolescent psychiatry, developmental neuroscience, and related behavioral and social sciences and medical disciplines.

Excerpt from the foreword:

“I would make the plea that in addition to anyone with an interest in child development, this book should be essential reading for researchers pursuing “pre-clinical, basic science models of neurodevelopment and brain health”…. This book provides what in my mind is the most advanced compilation of existing knowledge and state-of-the-art science in the field of prenatal psychiatry/psychology (and perhaps in the entire field of prenatal medicine).  This volume can brilliantly serve to focus future directions in our understanding of the perinatal determinants of brain health.”

Michael J Meaney

James McGill Professor of Medicine

Translational Neuroscience Programme

Adjunct Professor of Paediatrics


  • DOHaD (developmental originals of health and disease)
  • Fetal brain development and programming
  • GxE (gene-environment interaction) influences on epigenome
  • Maternal antidepressants and microbiome
  • Microbiome, brain, mood, and behavior
  • Neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and early development
  • Prenatal adversity and gender-specific effects
  • Prenatal & postnatal maternal depression & child development
  • Prenatal environments and epigenetic effects
  • Prenatal experience, trauma, and culture
  • Prenatal maternal depression & pregnancy-specific anxiety
  • Prenatal maternal stress and child neurodevelopment
  • Prenatal programming, placenta, and psychiatric illness
  • Prenatal programming, postnatal plasticity
  • Prenatal stress and offspring immune system functioning
  • Prenatal stress and resilience
  • Psychobiological stress and fetal neurodevelopment
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants
  • Statistical modeling of prenatal environment
  • Transgenerational stress transmission and child behavior

Editors and Affiliations

  • Department of Psychiatry, McGill University, Montreal, Canada

    Ashley Wazana, Eszter Székely

  • Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research, Jewish General Hospital, Montreal, Canada

    Ashley Wazana, Eszter Székely

  • BC Children‘s Hospital, BC Women‘s Hospital and Health Centre, Vancouver, Canada

    Tim F. Oberlander

  • Department of Pediatrics Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

    Tim F. Oberlander

About the editors

Ashley Wazana, M.D., FRCPC, is an Associate Professor at McGill University and FRQS senior clinician-scientist at the Jewish General Hospital (JGH). He is the co-director of a psychiatric day hospital for Early Childhood Disorders. Dr. Wazana completed his psychiatry training at McGill University and then proceeded to obtain his second M.Sc. in Epidemiology at Columbia. He had the privilege to start working on the MAVAN project with Michael Meaney more than 10 years ago as a principal investigator for psychopathology outcomes of this prenatal cohort. His research activities focus on identifying how the early environment, and specifically parent-child interactions, modifies the developmental risk characterized by prenatal adversity and genetic susceptibility to predict childhood psychopathology. He leads an international consortium of comparable prenatal cohorts (DREAM BIG), which examines, in multiple harmonized datasets, the same complex model of prediction of psychopathology from prenatal origins.

Eszter Székely, Ph.D., is a senior postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Psychiatry at McGill University. She obtained M.Sc. degrees in Child and Adolescent Psychology; Cognitive Neurosciences; and Epidemiology. Dr. Székely received her doctoral degree from Erasmus University Medical Centre (Rotterdam, the Netherlands) on the Dutch Generation R Study. In her first postdoctoral training at the U.S. National Human Genome Research Institute, she combined large-scale genomic, longitudinal neuroimaging, behavioural and social network data to better understand the emergence of psychopathology, in particular ADHD. In her current research, Dr. Székely continues to combine data from multiple levels of function to better understand the sex-specific effects of prenatal adversity on child mental health.

Tim F. Oberlander, M.D., FRCPC, is the inaugural R. Howard Webster Professor in Brain Imaging and Child Development in the Department of Pediatrics, UBC, a clinician with the Child Development and Rehabilitation Program and attending physician with the BCCH Complex Pain Service. As a physician-scientist his work bridges developmental neurosciences and community child health. Dr. Oberlander's research seeks to understand how prenatal exposure to maternal mood disorders and exposure to antidepressants affects early development. A particular focus of his work studies how antidepressants (SSRIs) shape stress regulation and related behaviours during childhood. His research incorporates   methods that extend from studies of molecular/genetic factors to population outcomes. His work provides strong evidence that both maternal mood and in utero exposure to SSRI antidepressants influences childhood behaviour. Increasingly, his work is showing that SSRI exposure only explains a proportion of behavioural outcomes, and key biological and maternal also shape pathways leading to both vulnerability and resiliency. Even in the face of adversity, some children do very well and the goal of Dr. Oberlander's work is to figure out how and why this happens.  

Bibliographic Information

Buying options

eBook USD 149.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-3-030-60159-1
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Softcover Book USD 199.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book USD 199.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)