Re-thinking the programming hypothesis: Prenatal maternal anxiety/depression, DNA methylation and child psychopathology. A sibling design

In this project we aim to examine DNAm as a potential biological pathway linking early life stress through to childhood and later adolescence, and to gain new knowledge on the role of DNA methylation (DNAm) in the risk of childhood psychopathology.

About the project

This project will gain new knowledge of some of the mechanisms underlying the link between prenatal stress and later outcomes in the child. The purpose of this project is to examine the role of epigenetic changes in the link between prenatal maternal stress  and child psychopathology.


In this study we will examine the role of DNAm in the association between prenatal maternal stress, birthweight and child psychopathology from infancy to middle childhood, in a discordant sibling design. Thus, exposed children will be compared with their non-exposed sibling. We expect that our findings will extend current knowledge on the role of prenatal programming and DNA methylation on pathways to healthy and aberrant development, and provide new knowledge about how epigenetic mechanisms may render some infants more susceptible to adversity and simultaneously more likely to benefit from supportive experience.


The project is financed by the Research Council of Norway, and runs from 2020 - 2024. 

Published Nov. 13, 2020 11:42 AM - Last modified Jan. 7, 2022 9:51 AM