About the Lab

In the Stress Processes and 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:

Bamishigbin Jr, O. N., Wilson, D. K., Abshire, D., Mejias-Lancheros, C., & Dunkel Schetter, C. (2020). Father Involvement in Infant Parenting in an Ethnically Diverse Community Sample: Predicting Paternal Depressive Symptoms. Frontiers in Psychiatry11, 957. View file: 

Irwin, J. L., Davis, E. P., Hobel, C., Coussons-Read, M., & Dunkel Schetter, C. (2020).                  Maternal prenatal anxiety trajectories and infant developmental outcomes in one-year-old offspring. Infant Behavior and Development, 60, Article 101468. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.infbeh.2020.101468 View file: 

Ponting, C., Chavira, D. A., Ramos, I., Christensen, W., Guardino, C. Dunkel Schetter, C. (2020 ). Postpartum depressive symptoms in low-income Latinas: Cultural and contextual contributors. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology. 26(4), 544-556. https://doi.org/10.1037/cdp0000325

Carroll, J. E., Mahrer, N. E., Shalowitz, M., Ramey, S., & Dunkel Schetter, C. (2020). Prenatal maternal stress prospectively relates to shorter child buccal cell telomere length.                  Psychoneuroendocrinology, 121, Article 104841. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2020.104841 View file: 

Mahrer, E., Ramos, I. F., Guardino, C.M., Davis, E. P., Ramey, S. L., Shalowitz, M. U., & Dunkel Schetter, C. (2020). Pregnancy anxiety in expectant mothers predicts offspring negative    affect: The moderating role of acculturation. Early Human Development, 141,  Article 104932. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.earlhumdev.2019.104932 View file: