Crystal Epstein

Early Career Tenure-track Researcher, University of North Carolina, Greensboro

1 active project

Pregnancy heart rate study

Women’s exposure to social adversity over the life course is associated with altered physiologic set points within stress regulatory systems (e.g. autonomic and endocrine systems). Such physiologic alterations render some women more vulnerable to adverse mental, physical and reproductive health…

Scientific Questions Being Studied

Women’s exposure to social adversity over the life course is associated with altered physiologic set points within stress regulatory systems (e.g. autonomic and endocrine systems). Such physiologic alterations render some women more vulnerable to adverse mental, physical and reproductive health trajectories. Circadian heart rate parameters are an emerging pre-morbid biomarker of sympathovagal balance of the autonomic stress response but few studies have studied this in the context of pregnancy. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to 1) describe within-person trajectories of circadian heart rate over the duration of pregnancy, 2) examine whether between-person variation in these parameters is associated with social and intergenerational adversity and 3) whether within- and between-person nocturnal heart rate parameters are associated with physical activity in pregnancy.

Project Purpose(s)

  • Social / Behavioral
  • Methods Development

Scientific Approaches

We will curate a subset of data from the National Institutes of Health All of Us Research Program for secondary analysis. We will examine a subset of individuals with 1) a confirmed pregnancy and 2) available Fitbit data. Minute-level data on heart rate from the Fitbit will be used to compute circadian heart rate parameters (e.g. nocturnal dipping ratio). Intensive longitudinal data analysis methods will be used for within-person analyses. Multilevel modeling will be used to examine between-person analyses. This research will enhance understanding of stress-related programming effects on pathophysiologic pregnancy complications.

Anticipated Findings

We hypothesize that pregnancy will be associated with an overall increase in heart rate and changes in the nocturnal dipping ratio over the course of pregnancy. Social and intergenerational adversity will be associated with baseline nocturnal dipping ratio and trajectories of heart rate over gestation.

Demographic Categories of Interest

This study will not center on underrepresented populations.

Research Team

Owner:

  • Crystal Epstein - Early Career Tenure-track Researcher, University of North Carolina, Greensboro
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