Major climatic events, such as hurricanes, appear to be increasing due to the consequences of global warming. Such events are likely associated with increased psychological stress. On October 29, 2012 Superstorm Sandy, a major hurricane, devastated the mid-Atlantic region of the United States, particularly the New York City/New Jersey area. Pregnant women are considered a vulnerable population and there is increasing evidence that acute psychosocial stressors may be associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes, such as decreases in birth weight and decreases in gestational length. Further, maternal exposure to stressful events may be associated with decreases in leukocyte telomere length (LTL) in the newborn. Capitalizing on a birth cohort currently being recruited, we propose a study to examine associations between exposure to Superstorm Sandy and pregnancy outcomes and newborn LTL. This study improves on previous studies of natural and manmade disasters because we will be able to parse exposure to specific trimesters and to the three months prior to conception;we have place controls, i.e. a cohort being recruited in an unaffected area using exactly the same measures;we have baseline information on maternal perceived stress, depression, anxiety, social support and resilience, and we have an adequate sample size to address the aims. Results from this study have the potential to inform emergency responders and clinicians how best to support and potentially mitigate the effects of psychological stress among pregnant women after a major natural disaster. Results will also set the stage for studies to inquire whether prenatal exposure to stressful events is associated with cognitive and behavioral problems in children.

Public Health Relevance

Major climatic events, such as hurricanes, appear to be increasing due to the consequences of global warming. Such events are likely associated with increased psychological stress. Pregnant women are considered a vulnerable population and there is increasing evidence that acute psychosocial stressors may be associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes, such as decreases in birth weight and decreases in gestational length. This proposed study will evaluate the associations between exposure to Superstorm Sandy and adverse pregnancy outcomes in an ongoing study of mother-father-newborn trios. Results from the study have the potential to inform emergency responders and clinicians how best to support and potentially mitigate the effects of psychological stress among pregnant women during and after a major disaster.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Institute
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
Type
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
Project #
1R21ES023582-01
Application #
8625082
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZES1-SET-J (T2))
Program Officer
Thompson, Claudia L
Project Start
2013-05-15
Project End
2015-04-30
Budget Start
2013-05-15
Budget End
2014-04-30
Support Year
1
Fiscal Year
2013
Total Cost
$240,000
Indirect Cost
$90,000
Name
Columbia University (N.Y.)
Department
Public Health & Prev Medicine
Type
Schools of Public Health
DUNS #
621889815
City
New York
State
NY
Country
United States
Zip Code
10032