Document Type


Publication Date



Exposure to early life adversity may disrupt the development and maturation of neurons and brain circuits, which, in turn, underlie neurodevelopment and mental illnesses. During fetal life, maternal adversity is conveyed to the developing brain via several molecular signals, including the stress hormone corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH). Employing a large well characterized prospective cohort, we find that fetal exposure to placental-origin CRH levels predicts structural and functional brain outcomes in children. Specifically, elevated placental CRH levels portend thinning of selective cortical regions of exposed individuals, with commensurate cognitive and emotional deficits. Notably, the relations of placental-origin CRH to cortical thinning and childhood symptoms are sex-specific. In view of the established effects of CRH on survival and arborization of cortical neurons, these findings position placental CRH as an important mediator of the consequences of early-life adversity on neuropsychiatric outcomes.


This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in American Journal of Psychiatry, volume 175, issue 5, in 2018 following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version is available online at DOI: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2017.16121433.


American Psychiatric Publishing



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.