Association between maternal psychological adversity and lung function in South African infants: A birth cohort study

Kariuki SM, Gray DM, Newton CRJC, Vanker A, MacGinty RP, Koen N, Barnett W, Chibnik L, Koenen KC, Stein DJ, Zar HJ
Pediatr Pulmonol. 2020;55

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OBJECTIVE: The association of perinatal psychological adversity (ie, stressors and distress) with infant lung function (ILF) and development is not well studied in Africa and elsewhere. We determined the association between maternal perinatal psychological adversity and ILF in African infants. DESIGN: Prospective longitudinal follow up of the Drakenstein Child Health Study birth cohort. PARTICIPANTS: Seven hundred and sixty-two infants aged 6 to 10 weeks and 485 infants who had data for both maternal perinatal psychological adversity and ILF (measured at 6 to 10 weeks and 12 months). METHODS: The main analyses were based on cross-sectional measures of ILF at each assessment (6 to 10 weeks or 12 months), using generalized linear models, and then on the panel-data of both longitudinal ILF assessments, using generalised estimating equations, that allowed specification of the within-group correlation structure. RESULTS: Prenatal intimate partner violence (IPV) exposure was associated with reduced respiratory resistance at 6 to 10 weeks (beta coefficient [beta] = -.131, P = .023); postnatal IPV with reduced ratio of time to peak tidal expiratory flow over total expiratory time (tPTEF /tE ) at 12 months (beta = -.206, P = .016); and prenatal depression with lower respiratory rate at 6 to 10 weeks (beta = -.044, P = .032) and at 12 months (beta = -.053, P = .021). Longitudinal analysis found an association of prenatal IPV with reduced tPTEF /tE (beta = -.052, P < .0001); postnatal IPV with decreased functional residual capacity (FRC; beta = -.086, P < .0001); prenatal posttraumatic stress disorder with increased FRC (beta = .017, P < .0001); prenatal depression with increased FRC (beta = .026, P < .0001) and postnatal depression with increased FRC (beta = .021, P < .0001). CONCLUSION: Screening for psychological adversity and understanding the mechanisms involved may help identify children at risk of altered lung development and inform approaches to treatment.