Free Radic Biol Med. 2019 Nov 1;143:95-100. doi: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2019.07.032. Epub 2019 Jul 29.
BACKGROUND: Lower socioeconomic status (SES) and psychosocial stress during pregnancy have been associated with adverse birth outcomes. While hypothalamic-pituitary-axis activation is thought to be the primary driver, oxidative stress may also be involved mechanistically. We used data from the Puerto Rico Testsite for Exploring Contamination Threats (PROTECT) cohort (N=476) to examine associations between self-reported psychosocial stress measures, SES indicators, and urinary oxidative stress biomarker concentrations, hypothesizing that women with lower SES and increased psychosocial stress would have elevated oxidative stress biomarkers.
METHODS: Maternal age, education, marital status, insurance status, alcohol use and smoking status were obtained via self-reported questionnaires and were used as indicators of SES. Perceived stress, depression, negative life experiences, neighborhood perceptions, and social support were self-reported in questionnaires administered during pregnancy. Responses were grouped into tertiles for analysis, where the highest tertile corresponded to highest level of psychosocial stress. Urinary concentrations of 8-iso-prostaglandin F2α (8-iso-PGF2α) and its primary metabolite were measured at three study visits (median 18, 24, 28 weeks gestation) and averaged to reflect oxidative stress across pregnancy. Linear models were used to examine associations between SES indicators, tertiles of psychosocial stress and oxidative stress biomarkers.
RESULTS: Average levels of 8-iso-PGF2α and the 8-iso-PGF2α metabolite were higher among pregnant women who were younger, who had public compared to private insurance, and who were unemployed compared to employed. However, no associations were observed between psychosocial stress measures and biomarker concentrations in adjusted analyses.
CONCLUSIONS: Psychosocial stress during pregnancy, as indicated by self-reported questionnaire measures, was not associated with biomarkers of oxidative stress in the PROTECT study. However, results suggest that these biomarkers are elevated among women of lower SES, which is typically associated with stress. Notably, compared to other populations, self-reported psychosocial stress measures were lower in PROTECT compared to other populations.