Maternal stress and psychological distress preconception: association with offspring atopic eczema at age 12 months.
El-Heis S., Crozier SR., Healy E., Robinson SM., Harvey NC., Cooper C., Inskip HM., Baird J., Southampton Women's Survey Study Group None., Godfrey KM.
BACKGROUND: Perinatal maternal stress and low mood have been linked to offspring atopic eczema. OBJECTIVES: To examine the relation of maternal stress/mood with atopic eczema in the offspring, focusing particularly on stress/psychological distress preconception. METHODS: At recruitment in the UK Southampton Women's Survey, preconception maternal reports of perceived stress in daily living and the effect of stress on health were recorded; in a subsample, psychological distress was assessed (12-item General Health Questionnaire). Infants were followed up at ages 6 (n = 2956) and 12 (n = 2872) months and atopic eczema ascertained (based on UK Working Party Criteria for the Definition of Atopic Dermatitis). At 6 months post-partum, mothers were asked if they had experienced symptoms of low mood since childbirth and completed the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale. RESULTS: Preconception perceived stress affecting health [OR 1.21 (95% CI 1.08-1.35), P = 0.001] and stress in daily living [OR 1.16 (1.03-1.30), P = 0.014] were associated with an increased risk of offspring atopic eczema at age 12 months but not at 6 months, robust to adjustment for potentially confounding variables. Findings were similar for maternal psychological distress preconception. Low maternal mood between delivery and 6 months post-partum was associated with an increased risk of infantile atopic eczema at age 12 months, but no significant association between post-natal mood and atopic eczema was seen after taking account of preconception stress. CONCLUSION AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Our data provide novel evidence linking maternal stress at preconception to atopic eczema risk, supporting a developmental contribution to the aetiology of atopic eczema and pointing to potentially modifiable influences.