Summary – Københavns Universitet

Summary

of Maja Nyström-Hansen's PhD-thesis:

The dissertation aims to contribute to the intersecting research fields of biology and behavior. This includes exploration of a proposed cascade model of a trajectory from maternal experience of childhood maltreatment and psychopathology to stress in pregnancy, to disrupted forms of maternal behavior when interacting with the infant postpartum, and finally to infant stress in early infancy. The key method in the exploration of this subject is hair cortisol from mothers and their infants, in addition to clinical assessments of childhood maltreatment and severe psychopathology, and behavioral data from mother-infant video interaction. The dissertation discusses possible mechanisms of the proposed transmission of stress from mothers with severe psychopathology to their infants. Preliminary indications of hair cortisol as a potential early biomarker for future caregiving challenges, in addition to being a promising biological method for predicting stress in early infancy, are suggested.