Presented by: Maryam Hamidi
Purpose: Preliminary research suggests that prenatal stress may alter programming of the fetal microbiome. The purpose of this study was to determine relationships of pregnancy stress to diversity and composition of the neonate’s gut microbiome.
Design: This cross-sectional analysis is part of a longitudinal, cohort study.
Methods: Fifty-one women and their future newborns were recruited during the third trimester of pregnancy. Women completed demographics and Cohen’s Perceived Stress Scale at recruitment. A stool sample was collected from the neonate at one month of age. Data on potential confounds (e.g. gestational age) were extracted from the medical record to control for their effects. 16s rRNA gene sequencing and DESeq were used to identify diversity and abundance of species and test for differential expression of various taxa. We employed multiple linear regression to examine the aims.
Results: Greater pregnancy stress was associated with greater diversity of the neonate’s gut microbiome (β = .30, p=.025). However, the abundance of certain species appeared perturbed in neonate’s exposed to greater stress in utero. For instance, they had a significantly lower abundance of potentially beneficial bacteria such as Lactobacillus, Lactococcus, and Bifidobacterium.
Conclusions: A more complex, multi-species gut microbiome may lead to less stability and greater susceptibility to functional perturbations during development. Lower levels of beneficial bacteria can lead to less ability to ward off pathogenic organisms, and related infections or intestinal disorders.
Relevance: Research could eventually yield microbial markers and microbial gene pathways that are bio-signatures of risk and inform targets for probiotic therapies.
Key words: microbiome, maternal stress, neonate, pregnancy