This proposal describes a 5-year training program for the development of an academic career in developmental Studies. The principal investigator is a board certified Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician who would like to train in cultural research, fetal biobehavioral assessment, and mother-infant interaction. His mentor is Prof Patricia Greenfield (UCLA) and co-mentor is Prof Janet DiPietro (Johns Hopkins). The pressure from families on the mother to conform to societal standards and traditional cultural beliefs may affect maternal, fetal and child well being. It has implications on maternal and child mental health, and is a universal public health concern. In countries where the status of women is low, girl child undesirability is associated with adverse outcomes for the female fetus and child, including increased mortality and morbidity. In China, the one-child policy is thought to heighten the strain in many families to produce a male child. The proposed study has two main goals. The first is to examine whether familial expectation to have a male child in China fosters higher levels of maternal psychological distress during pregnancy, thereby generating effects mediated through maternal physiological alterations on the developing fetus. The second is to determine whether maternal anxiety over the gender of the fetus, with postnatal modulation of anxiety depending on the gender of the child, may be associated with the quality of mother-son and mother-daughter interaction. This cohort study will comprise two groups (rural and urban Chinese) of 100 families each. Families will be recruited at 15 weeks gestational age (T1), and followed up at: 30 and 36 weeks prenatally, and 3 months post term age (T2, T3 and T4 respectively). Familial gender preference, maternal conjecture of fetus' gender, maternal anxiety related to fetus' gender, and maternal pregnancy-related anxiety, will be assessed by semistructured interviews at T1, T2 and T3. Fetal heart rate and movement data will be measured using fetal actocardiography at T2 and T3. At T4, mother-child interaction and maternal anxiety as a new parent will be assessed. Maternal HPA-axis activation will be measured at T1, T2, T3 and T4 by salivary cortisol levels. ? ?
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