Unique Contributions of Maternal Prenatal and Postnatal Emotion Dysregulation on Infant Respiratory Sinus Arrhythmia
Gepubliceerd in: Research on Child and Adolescent Psychopathology | Uitgave 9/2022Log in om toegang te krijgen
Prenatal intrauterine exposures and postnatal caregiving environments may both shape the development of infant parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) activity. However, the relative contributions of prenatal and postnatal influences on infant respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA)–an index of PNS functioning–are relatively unknown. We examined whether prenatal and postnatal maternal emotion dysregulation, a transdiagnostic construct that spans mental health diagnoses, were independently related to infant RSA trajectories during a social stressor, the still-face paradigm. Our sample included 104 mothers and their 7-month-old infants. Maternal emotion dysregulation was measured with the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale during the 3rd trimester of pregnancy and again at a 7-month postpartum laboratory visit. Infant RSA was recorded during the still-face paradigm. Only postnatal maternal emotion dysregulation was associated with infant RSA. Specifically, high postnatal emotion dysregulation was associated with a blunted (i.e., dampened reactivity and recovery) infant RSA response profile. Infant sex did not moderate the associations between maternal emotion dysregulation and infant RSA. Findings suggest that postnatal interventions to promote effective maternal emotion regulation may reduce risk for infants’ dysregulated psychophysiological stress responses.