Chronic stress and C-reactive protein in mothers during the first postpartum year

Academic Article


  • Objective: Elevated levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular and metabolic disease. The current study tested associations between psychosocial stress and CRP in a large sample of women during the first postpartum year. Methods: We analyzed data collected by the five-site Community Child Health Network study, which studied a predominately poor population. Participants (n = 1206 women; 54% African American, 23% white, 23% Hispanic/Latina) were recruited shortly after the birth of a child. Multiple linear regression analyses tested associations of psychosocial stress in several life domains (financial, neighborhood, family, coparenting, partner relationship, discrimination, and interpersonal violence) with log-transformed CRP concentrations at 6-month and 1-year postpartum. Results: Forty-eight percent of participants showed evidence of elevated CRP (=3 mg/L) at 6-month postpartum, and 46% had elevated CRP at 12-month postpartum. Chronic financial stress at 1-month postpartum predicted higher levels of CRP at 6-(b =.15, SE =.05, p =.006) and 12-month postpartum (b =.15, SE =.06, p =.007) adjusting for race/ethnicity, income, education, parity, health behaviors, and chronic health conditions, though associations became nonsignificant when adjusted for body mass index. Conclusions: In this low-income and ethnic/racially diverse sample of women, higher financial stress at 1-month postbirth predicted higher CRP. Study findings suggest that perceived financial stress stemming from socioeconomic disadvantage may be a particular deleterious form of stress affecting maternal biology during the year after the birth of a child.
  • Authors

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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Guardino CM; Schetter CD; Hobel CJ; Lanzi RG; Schafer P; Thorp JM; Shalowitz MU
  • Start Page

  • 450
  • End Page

  • 460
  • Volume

  • 79
  • Issue

  • 4