Associations of Hormonal Biomarkers With Mental Health and Healthy Behaviors Among Mothers of Very-Low-Birthweight Infants.

Journal Article

OBJECTIVES:To examine the concurrent use of self-report questionnaires and hormonal biomarkers, specifically levels of testosterone and cortisol, along with demographic variables and corrected age (CA) in the assessment of mental health and healthy behaviors among mothers of very-low-birthweight (VLBW, BW < 1,500 g) infants at five time points over 2 years post birth. METHOD:Data on 40 mothers from a neonatal intensive care unit of a tertiary medical center in the southeast United States were collected from the medical record, standard questionnaires for the mother (depressive symptoms, perceived stress, anxiety, mental health status, parenting stress, and healthy lifestyle behaviors), and biochemical measurement of maternal testosterone and cortisol using enzyme immunoassay at birth, 40 weeks' postmenstrual age, and 6, 12, and 24 months CA. RESULTS:Maternal self-report of mental health improved from birth to 6 or 12 months then worsened at 24 months. Mixed linear models showed that mothers with higher testosterone levels had more depressive symptoms and smoked more, whereas mothers with higher cortisol levels had healthier behaviors and exercised more. Testosterone levels were negatively correlated with cortisol levels. Marital status, education, and health insurance were the most predictive demographic variables for the levels of hormonal biomarkers, mental health, and healthy behaviors. CONCLUSIONS:The use of self-report and biochemical measurement was effective in assessing maternal mental health and healthy behaviors over 2 years post birth, when mothers of VLBW infants tend to experience more mental health problems and parenting difficulties than mothers of normal-BW full-term infants.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Cho, J; Su, X; Holditch-Davis, D

Published Date

  • May 2019

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 21 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 253 - 263

PubMed ID

  • 30764642

Pubmed Central ID

  • 30764642

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1552-4175

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1099-8004

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1177/1099800419829592


  • eng