The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)

Exploring Potential Risk Factors of Fetal Origins of Diabetes: Maternal Stressors during Pregnancy and Birth Outcomes among Women in a Hospital in the Municipality of Caguas, Puerto Rico


1Department of Anthropology, University of South Florida, 2Department of Anthropology, 3Department of Psychology, 4Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics

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Puerto Rico exhibits the highest prevalence of diabetes, low birth-weight, and the second highest prevalence of preterm-birth in U.S. and its non-incorporated territories. Maternal psychosocial stressors during pregnancy have been associated with low birth-weight, preterm-birth, type 2 diabetes and immune-inflammatory dysregulations. Current evidence points toward epigenetic fetal metabolic-programming as the mechanism underlying the increased risk for these. However, psychosocial stressors involved in adverse birth outcomes and clinical complications have not been well studied. The present study seeks to identify stressors that may contribute to the high prevalence of low birth-weight and preterm-birth in the population of Puerto Rico. Participant mothers (n = 68) answered a questionnaire composed of five validated scales for measuring maternal stress during pregnancy. Data on birth outcomes and clinical complications were collected from the medical records of mothers and babies. Correlations were found between birth-weight and maternal weight before giving birth (p = 0.010), weight gain (p = 0.038), and BMI before giving birth (p = 0.020). Birth-term was found to be correlated with maternal weight gain (p = 0.022), and BMI before giving birth (p = 0.023). None of the scores from the stress scales was significantly correlated with any birth outcome. Preliminary analyses of continuous data suggest that maternal weight, BMI, and weight gain during pregnancy may have a more significant influence on birth outcomes than maternal stress. Future research should evaluate biological markers of stress, and the possibility of stress having an effect on maternal body composition during pregnancy.

Funded by University of South Florida, Office of Research and Innovation and the Graduate School.

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