Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Pregnancy is accompanied by a multitude of physical and psychological changes. Adaptation to these changes through reduced anxiety and attenuated stress responsiveness is necessary across gestation and into the postpartum period for optimal maternal-infant health. In contrast, exposure to higher amounts of stressors during pregnancy can disrupt neuroendocrine-immune processes required for successful pregnancy outcomes. Evolving evidence demonstrates that exposure to adversity early in life has long-lasting effects on stress response systems that alter stress reactivity during adulthood. Given this evidence, it is posited that women who experience greater pre-pregnancy adversity during their childhood are at greater risk for negative maternal-infant health sequelae. Thus, the purpose of this study is to investigate the relationship between maternal childhood adversity and the psychological-neuroendocrine-immune profile during pregnancy. In addition, maternal risk and protective factors posited to moderate this profile were examined. Lastly, the relationship among maternal childhood adversity, maternal PNI profile during pregnancy, and neonatal outcomes were explored. The findings can contribute to improved approaches to identify and stratify risk for adverse maternal-infant health outcomes, as well as guide the development of early intervention programs and health policy for women who are pregnant or who plan to become pregnant. This is significant because the well-being of mothers and infants determines the health of the next generation. Improving maternal-infant well-being can markedly reduce public health challenges and ultimately reduce health care costs across the lifespan (U.S. Department of Health and Human Service, 2011).

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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