The Stress, Eating, and Early Development (SEED) Study examines the effects of prenatal stress and maternal weight gain on offspring mental and physical health. SEED has enrolled 180 women, recruited from the Maternal Adiposity, Metabolism, and Stress (MAMAS) study, a controlled trial of a mindfulness-based small-group intervention to reduce stress and prevent excess weight gain during pregnancy.
Environmental influences during the first years of life, beginning in the womb, are strong determinants for later life health. Accumulating evidence from prenatal programming and developmental research shows how early life stress and poor nutrition can affect health across the life course. We examine how offspring body composition, temperament, emotion regulation, and executive function develop over the first four years of life, and whether those babies born to women in the intervention group develop more optimally than those born to women from a "treatment as usual" group.
The SEED team has recently completed the sixth wave of assessments. Results from the study are just emerging--stay tuned for updates on findings and publications!
Department of Psychiatry, UCSF
Department of Psychiatry, UCSF
School of Public Health, UC Berkeley
School of Nursing, UCSF
Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Pediatrics, and Epidemiology, UC Irvine
SEED Study Staff
Nicki Bush, PhD
Dr. Bush is the Principal Investigator of the SEED Study. She joined the UCSF faculty after completing a postdoctoral fellowship as a Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholar at the UCSF/UCB site. Prior to that, she completed a postdoctoral fellowship in children’s physiologic stress reactivity at UC Berkeley. She received her PhD in Child Clinical Psychology from the University of Washington and completed her child clinical training internship at the Institute for Juvenile Research at the University of Illinois, Chicago. She has a background in basic research as well as clinical and community intervention with families from high-stress contexts, and she is actively involved in policy-oriented projects
Karen Jones-Mason, PhD, JD, MSW
Research Scientist, Investigator
Karen completed the joint MSW/PhD program at the University of California, Berkeley after representing and advocating for at risk youth and their families for over two decades. She is primarily interested in examining how social experience impacts biological development, health and well-being in youth. Her doctoral dissertation examined the association between the quality of attachment relationships and the activation of stress related genes (the serotonin transporter and glucocorticoid receptor gene). She is now examining the association between attachment and telomere length. On SEED Karen is analyzing the associations between maternal sensitivity, infant ANS and overall infant health.
Danielle Roubinov, PhD
Assistant Professor, Investigator
Dr. Roubinov joined the UCSF faculty following a 2-year fellowship in developmental psychobiology in the Department of Pediatrics. She completed her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Arizona State University and her clinical internship at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System. Her research explores the physiological, cognitive, and emotional pathways through which experiences of early life adversity shape physical and psychological health outcomes across the lifespan. She has a special interest in the intergenerational transmission of mood disorders and the physiological factors that either enhance risk or protect against the development of internalizing problems among children reared by parents with depression.
Alana Cordeiro, MPH
Current Study Coordinator
Alana graduated with a B.A. in Psychology from San Jose State University and a M.P.H. in Community Health & Prevention, with a focus on Maternal and Child Health from Drexel University in Philadelphia. She is passionate about improving health outcomes for minority and disadvantaged populations, reducing health disparities, and learning about how environment and stress affect health. Alana enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, watching funny movies, and being active.
Vanessa Tearnan, MA
Assistant Study Coordinator
Vanessa Tearnan has been with the SEED Study since its inception in 2010 and has completed over 400 home assessments with the SEED Study. She has a MA in Psychology and is currently completing a MA in Counseling with a specialization in Somatic Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies. She is interested in the mother-child relationship as well as the mind-body connection in relation to understanding humans and helping them heal . In her free time, she enjoys dancing, cooking, and traveling.
Michael Coccia, MS
Michael is a research statistician for the SEED Study. He completed a bachelor's in Biobehavioral Health and a mater's in Applied Statistics at Penn State University. His work is focused on understanding change processes measured at different time scales (e.g., second-by-second to month-to-month to year-over-year) through selection and implementation of appropriate statistical models. Every day he likes walking, talking, and laughing. Most days he gets stoked to bicycle SF's hills. Some days he enjoys a pastry breakfast. If lucky, he stumbles into a used bookstore.
Michelle Stephens, PhD, MSN, RN, CPNP
Michelle has completed her PhD at the UCSF School of Nursing using secondary analyses on SEED Study data for her dissertation. She is investigating how early life experience, specifically stress, affects autonomic nervous system reactivity in the early childhood period (0-3 years of age). In her downtime, Michelle enjoys cooking, hiking, traveling, and spending time with her family and friends.
Jennifer Felder, PhD
Jennifer Felder, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist dedicated to promoting women’s health during pregnancy and early parenting (i.e., the perinatal period). She optimizes interventions to improve psychological, behavioral, and physical health outcomes, such as depression, sleep, and preterm birth. She primarily focuses on targeting novel risk factors for depression. In an exciting new arm of her research program, she is developing and evaluating interventions for poor sleep, which is an understudied problem during the perinatal period. She is committed to increasing access to evidence-based interventions, particularly among populations disproportionately affected by poor health outcomes. To this end, she investigates innovative formats for disseminating interventions, such as digital, co-located, and integrated services.
Kristen L. Rudd
Kristen joined the SEED study after completing her PhD in Developmental Psychology from the University of California, Riverside. Her research explores how structures of support or adversity impact children’s physiological regulation and how these differences in regulatory responses influence physical and psychosocial health across development. The overall goal of her research is to identify ways to protect positive development and bring about better health outcomes when children encounter stress or adversity, with a focus on reducing health disparities.
Margaret Vuong, BS, RN
Assistant Clinical Research Coordinator
Margaret currently assists in abstracting medical records for the SEED study to help researchers understand the relationship between prenatal stress and chronic diseases. She has a BS in Health Science from San Jose State University and will obtain her MS in Nursing with a specialty in Community/Public Health from San Francisco State University in December 2018. She is passionate about reducing health disparities in disadvantaged populations and working with under-served communities. Her work includes assisting families of infants affected by substance use disorders. Outside of work, Margaret enjoys crafting and learning how to make things.
Beomyun (Victoria) Han, BA
Assistant Clinical Research Coordinator
Beomyun (Victoria) Han graduated from University of California, Berkeley in 2017 with a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology. She has assisted in research in the ReADI Lab for addiction interventions at UCSF under Dr. Danielle Ramo, as well as the Relationships and Social Cognition Lab at UC Berkeley under Dr. Ozlem Ayduk. In her time with SEED, she has assisted in medical record abstraction, bio-specimen organization, and data entry. In the future, Victoria would like to pursue a doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology and work with children and adolescents. In her free time, Victoria enjoys watching films and exploring the Bay Area with her friends.
Zoe Caron, BS
Former Project Coordinator
As the SEED Study project coordinator, Zoe manages the assessment team, behavioral coding, and autonomic nervous system scoring projects. Since completing her BS in Psychology and Child Development at Michigan State University in 2012, she has worked on a number of research projects with women and children. Zoe has completed over 2,500 in home assessments with high risk, low-income families and more than 3,000 hours of behavioral coding. She is particularly interested in the development of emotion regulation and autonomic nervous system reactivity in children exposed to early life adversity and plans to pursue a PhD in Child Clinical Psychology. In her free time, she enjoys backpacking, cooking, and keeping up with her 5 nieces and nephews.
SEED Study Alumni/Former Staff
Wendy Chu, Simar Singh, Savannah King, Stephanie Grover
Emily Cohodes, Katie Blackburn, Jennifer Savitz, Maggie Sheppard
Jayme Mulkey Congdon, Marialma Gonzales-Cruz, Yurivia Cervantes, Amy Engler
Cora Ormseth, Nina Marie Francesca Lagman, Alina Dobai, Julissa Cabrera
SEED Study Publications
Bush, N. R., Savitz, J., Coccia, M.*, Jones-Mason, K.*, Adler, N., Boyce, W. T., ... & Epel, E. (2020). Maternal Stress During Pregnancy Predicts Infant Infectious and Noninfectious Illness. The Journal of Pediatrics, 228, 117-125. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpeds.2020.08.041
Congdon, Jayme L. MD, MS*; Nugent, J. Kevin PhD; McManus, Beth M. PT, MPH, ScD; Coccia, Michael MS*; Bush, Nicole R. PhD. A Pilot Validation Study of the Newborn Behavioral Observations System: Associations with Salivary Cortisol and Temperament, Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics: December 2020 - Volume 41 - Issue 9 - p 716-723
Felder, J.N.*, Epel, E., Coccia, M.*, Cordeiro, A.*, Laraia, B., Adler, N., Coleman-Phox, K., & Bush, N.R. (2020). Prenatal maternal objective and subjective stress exposures and rapid infant weight gain. The Journal of Pediatrics. In press.
Roubinov, D.*, Epel, E., Laraia, B., Adler, N., Bush, N. (2019). Transactions between maternal and child depressive symptoms emerge early in life. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology. doi: 10.1080/15374416.2019.1644649
Jones-Mason, K.*, Alkon, A., Coccia, M.*, & Bush, N. (2018). Autonomic nervous system functioning assessed during the still-face paradigm: A meta-analysis and systematic review of methods, approach and findings. Developmental Review. doi: 10.1016/j.dr.2018.06.002
Roubinov, D.S.*, Felder, J.N.*, Vieten, C., Coleman-Phox, K., Laraia, B., Adler, N, Wilson, L., Epel, E., & Bush, N.R. (2018). Maternal depressive symptoms and infant healthcare utilization: The moderating role of prenatal mindfulness. General Hospital Psychiatry, 53, 82-83. doi: 10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2018.01.001
Jones-Mason, K.*, Grover, S.*, Coccia, M., & Bush, N. (2018). Basal and reactivity levels of cortisol in one-month-old infants born to overweight or obese mothers from an ethnically and racially diverse, low-income community sample. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 88, 115-120. doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2017.12.001
Felder, J.*, Roubinov, D.*, Bush, N., Coleman-Phox, K., Laraia, B., Adler, N., & Epel, E. (2018). Effect of prenatal mindfulness training on depressive symptom severity through 18-months postpartum: A latent profile analysis. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 74, 1117-1125. doi.org/10.1002/jclp.22592
Bush, N., Jones-Mason, K.*, Coccia, M.*, Caron, Z*, Thomas, M., Wadhwa, P., Laraia, B., Adler, N., & Epel, E. (2017). Effects of pre- and postnatal maternal stress on infant temperament and autonomic nervous system reactivity and regulation in a diverse, low-income population. Development and Psychopathology, 29, 1553-1571. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0954579417001237
Bush, N., Caron, Z., Blackburn, K., Alkon, A. (2016). Measuring cardiac autonomic nervous system (ANS) activity in toddlers — Resting and developmental challenges. Journal of Visualized Experiments, 108, e53652. doi: 10.3791/53652 https://www.jove.com/video/53652/measuring-cardiac-autonomic-nervous-sys...
Mulkey*, J., Adler, N., Epel, E., Laraia, B. & Bush, N. (2016). A prospective investigation of prenatal stress and childbirth perceptions in an ethnically and socioeconomically diverse sample. Birth, 43(2), 159-166. doi: 10.1111/birt.12221 . https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26948850
Bush Publications from the MAMAS Study:
Leung, C., Laraia, B., Coleman-Phox, K., Bush, N., Lin, J., Blackburn, E. H., Adler, N., & Epel, E. (2016). Sugary beverage and food consumption and leukocyte telomere length maintenance in pregnant women. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, advance online publication 15 June 2016. PMID: 27302671 doi:10.1038/ejcn.2016.93
Felder, J.*, Laraia, B., Coleman-Phox, K., Bush, N., Suresh, M., Thomas, M., Adler, N., Epel, E., & Prather, A. (2017). Poor sleep quality, psychological distress, and the buffering effect of mindfulness training during pregnancy. Behavioral Sleep Medicine, 1-15.