About the Lab

In the Stress Processes in Pregnancy Lab Prof. Dunkel Schetter and collaborators                      examine various aspects of prenatal maternal stress including stress exposures, emotional responses, and appraisals of stress and their effects on preterm birth and low birthweight. This program of research involves prospective  longitudinal studies of thousands of              pregnant women of diverse race and ethnicity and socioeconomic status including low    income, Hispanic and African American women. The lab has also focused on unique risk and resilience factors and mechanisms involving African American and Latina women and preventive interventions.

Prof. Dunkel Schetter and associates have documented that prenatal anxiety reliably              predicts time of gestation and that corticotrophin releasing hormone (CRH) is involved in the mechanisms responsible for earlier births. In addition, we have examined the HPA axis in pregnancy and published findings involving levels of ACTH and cortisol as well as CRH at various times in pregnancy, and as significant correlates of self-report psychological measures. 

For the past ten or more years Prof. Dunkel Schetter has been engaged in work with the NICHD funded Community Child Health Network (CCHN) that conducted a community          collaborative national study on SES and racial/ethnic disparities in maternal and child health, which focused on fathers as well as mothers. This work has yielded many papers on a large range of topics emphasizing mothers and fathers of color and of low income. (See Projects for a full list)

A follow-up study of a portion of the CCHN cohort led by Prof. Dunkel Schetter examined children of a subsequent birth and their mothers permitting examination of preconception maternal factors predicting birth and early child outcomes. That work along with another    cohort study (Healthy Babies Before Birth/HB3) in Los Angeles and Denver include                  consideration of neuroendocrine, immune, epigenetic, and gene expression processes in    maternal child outcomes.(See Projects)

Latest Publications:

Hooker, E.D., Corona, K., Guardino, C.M., Dunkel Schetter, C., & Campos, B. (In press). What predicts interdependence with family? The relative contributions of ethnicity/race and social class. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology

Julian, M., Somers, J. A., Dunkel Schetter, C., & Guardino, C. M. (2023). Resilience resources, life stressors, and postpartum depressive symptoms in a community sample of low and middle-income Black, Latina, and White mothers. Stress and health : journal of the International Society for the Investigation of Stress, 10.1002/smi.3275. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1002/smi.3275

Rinne, G. R., Hartstein, J., Guardino, C. M., & Dunkel Schetter, C. (2023). Stress before conception and during pregnancy and maternal cortisol during pregnancy: A scoping review. Psychoneuroendocrinology153, 106115. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2023.106115

Ross, K. M., Mander, H., Rinne, G., Okun, M., Hobel, C., Coussons-Read, M., & Dunkel Schetter, C. (2023). Pregnancy-specific anxiety and gestational length: The mediating role of diurnal cortisol indices. Psychoneuroendocrinology153, 106114. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2023.106114

Rinne, G. R., Mahrer, N. E., Guardino, C. M., Shalowitz, M. U., Ramey, S. L., & Dunkel Schetter, C. (2023). Childhood family stress modifies the association between perinatal stressful life events and depressive symptoms. Journal of family psychology : JFP : journal of the Division of Family Psychology of the American Psychological Association (Division 43), 10.1037/fam0001076. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1037/fam0001076

Ponting, C., Ong, E., Dunkel Schetter, C., & Chavira, D. A. (2023). Exposure therapy acceptability among pregnant Latinas with anxiety: A qualitative content analysis. Cultural diversity & ethnic minority psychology, 10.1037/cdp0000589. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1037/cdp0000589

Galley, J.D., Mashburn-Warren, L., Blalock, L.C., Lauber, C.L, Carroll, J.E., Ross, K.M., Hobel, C., Coussons-Read, M., Dunkel Schetter, C., Gur, T.L. (2023). Maternal anxiety, depression, and stress affects offspring gut microbiome diversity and bifidobacterial abundances. Brain Behavior and Immunity. S0889-1591(22)00417-2. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbi.2022.10.012

Méndez Leal, S., Silvers, J.A., Carroll, J.E., Cole, S.W., Ross, K.M, Ramey, S. L., Shalowitz, M.U., Dunkel Schetter, C. (2023) Maternal early life stress is associated with pro-inflammatory processes during pregnancy. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbi.2022.10.012