Maternal cortisol levels in third trimester and early language development: A study of 1093 mother–child pairs from the Odense Child Cohort

Hanne Mumm, Anja Fenger Dreyer*, Dorthe Bleses, Dorte Glintborg, Tina Kold Jensen, Henriette Boye, Fabio Trecca, Marianne Skovsager Andersen


Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review

42 Downloads (Pure)


Language development during early childhood is considered an important marker of fetal neurodevelopment. Prenatal cortisol exposure plays a critical role in maturation of the fetal brain; however, the effect on offspring language development needs further investigation. In this prospective observational study we aimed to evaluate the association between maternal third trimester cortisol and early longitudinal offspring language development in the Odense Child Cohort (OCC) and to test whether there were sex differences in the association. The study cohort included 1093 mother–child dyads (570 boys and 523 girls). Fasting morning serum (s-) cortisol was collected from third trimester (gestational week 26–28) pregnant women and measured by liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry. Offspring receptive and productive vocabulary assessments by MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventories parent reports were completed every third month from children age 12–37 months. Levels of cortisol were higher in women carrying a girl (858 ± 214 nmol/L) than in women carrying a boy (820 ± 222 nmol/L). Higher third trimester maternal cortisol levels showed a positive association with development of productive vocabulary in boys at age 12–21 months (OR = 1.23, SE = 0.07, p =.005) and age 22–37 months (OR = 1.09, SE = 0.06, p =.967). Higher maternal cortisol levels in the third trimester were positively associated with receptive vocabulary in girls at 12–21 months of age (OR = 1.16, SE = 0.05, p =.002). Maternal third trimester s-cortisol levels were positively associated with early language development in children at age 12–37 months.

TidsskriftJournal of Neuroendocrinology
Udgave nummer8
StatusUdgivet - aug. 2023

Bibliografisk note

Funding Information:
We thank the families in the Odense Child Cohort for their participation in and commitment to the study. The technicians at Hans Christian Andersen's Children's Hospital and department of Biochemistry and Immunology at Lillebaelt Hospital, Vejle for their careful examination of the children and analysis of cortisol. The DoubleEdge project (EudraCT nos. 2020‐006121‐65 and 2021‐002528‐18) funded by the Novo Nordic Foundation provides salary for PhD‐student and shared first‐author Anja Fenger Dreyer.


Dyk ned i forskningsemnerne om 'Maternal cortisol levels in third trimester and early language development: A study of 1093 mother–child pairs from the Odense Child Cohort'. Sammen danner de et unikt fingeraftryk.