Wirral Child Health and Development Study: First Steps

What have we discovered so far?

A list of the scientific papers from the First Steps Study focusing on early infancy, which have been published so far are listed below. Please click on the links to download them. All papers are open access.

Braithwaite, E. C., Hill, J., Pickles, A., Glover, V., O’Donnell, K., & Sharp, H. (2017) Associations between maternal prenatal cortisol and fetal growth are specific to infant sex: Findings from the Wirral Child Health and Development Study. PsyArXiv DOI: 10.17605/OSF.IO/EZJCS. Read.


Manca, M., Pessoa, V., Illera Lopez, A., Harrison, PT., Miyajima, F., Sharp, H., Pickles, A., Hill, J., Murgatroyd, C., Bubb, VJ., Quinn, J. (2018) The regulation of Monoamine Oxidase A gene expression by distinct Variable Number Tandem Repeats. In Press.


Huntley, F., Wright, N., Pickles, A., Sharp, H., & Hill, J. (2017) Maternal mental health and child problem behaviours: disentangling the role of depression and borderline personality dysfunction. British Journal of Psychiatry Open, 3(6), 300-305. DOI: 10.1192/bjp.bp.117.005843. Read


Wright, N., Hill, J., Sharp, H., & Pickles, A. (2018) Maternal sensitivity to distress, attachment and the development of callous-unemotional traits in young children. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. 30 Jan 2018. DOI: 10.1111/jcpp.12867 Read.


Vidal-Ribas P, Pickles A, Tibu F, Sharp H and Hill J (2017) Sex differences in the associations between vagal reactivity and oppositional defiant disorder symptoms. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 58(9):988-997. Doi:10.1111/jcpp.12750. Read


Braithwaite, E.C., Pickles, A., Sharp, H., Glover, V., O'Donnell, J., Tibu, F., & Hill, J. (2017) Maternal prenatal cortisol predicts infant negative emotionality in a sex-dependent manner. Physiology and Behaviour 175:31-36. DOI:10.1016/j.physbeh.2017.03.017. Read.


Pickles, A., Sharp, H., Hellier, J., & Hill, J. (2017) Prenatal anxiety, maternal stroking in infancy, and symptoms of emotional and behavioral disorders at 3.5 years. European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 26:325-334. DOI: 10.1007/s00787-016-0886-6. Read.


Wright, N., Hill, J., Pickles, A., & Sharp, H. (2015) The Specific Role of Relationship Life Events in the Onset of Depression during Pregnancy and the Postpartum. PLoS One 10(12):e0144131. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0144131. Read


Koukounari, A., Pickles, A., Hill, J., & Sharp, H. (2015) Psychometric Properties of the Parent-Infant Caregiving Touch Scale. Frontiers in Psychology 6:1887. DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01887. Read


Hill, J., Murgatroyd, C., Quinn, J., Sharp, H., & Pickles, A. (2015) Effects of prenatal and postnatal depression, and maternal stroking, at the glucocorticoid receptor gene. Translational Psychiatry 5:e560. DOI:1038/tp.2014.140.  Read.


Sharp, H., Hill, J., Hellier, J., & Pickles, A. (2015) Maternal antenatal anxiety, postnatal stroking and emotional problems in children: outcomes predicted from pre- and postnatal programming hypotheses. Psychological Medicine 45(2):269-283, DOI: 10.1017/S0033291714001342.  Read.


Tibu, F., Sharp, H., Marshall, K., Glover, V., & Pickles, A. (2014) Evidence for sex differences in fetal programming of physiological stress reactivity in infancy. Development and Psychopathology 26(4):879-888. DOI: 10.1017/S0954579414000194. Read.


Bedford, R., Pickles, A., Sharp, H., Wright, N., & Hill, J. (2014) Reduced face preference in infancy: a developmental precursor to callous-unemotional traits? Biological Psychiatry 78(2):144–150. DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2014.09.022. Read.


Hill, J., Breen, G., Quinn, J., Tibu, F., Sharp, H., & Pickles, A. (2013) Evidence for interplay between genes and maternal stress in utero: Monoamine Oxidase A polymorphism moderates effects of life events during pregnancy on infant negative emotionality at 5 weeks. Genes, Brain and Behaviour 12(4):388-396. DOI:10.1111/gbb.12033. Read.


Pickles, A., Hill, J., Breen, G., Quinn, J., Marshall, K., Jones, H., & Sharp, H. (2013) Evidence for interplay between genes and parenting on infant emotion regulation in the first year of life: Monoamine Oxidase A polymorphism moderates effects of maternal sensitivity on infant anger proneness. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. 54(12):12308-1317. DOI: 10.1111/jcpp.12081. Read.


Sharp, H., Pickles, A., Meaney, M., Marshall, K., Tibu, F., & Hill, J. (2012) Frequency of Infant Stroking Reported by Mothers Moderates the Effect of Prenatal Depression on Infant Behavioural and Physiological Outcomes. PLoS ONE 7(10):e45446. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0045446. Read.

List of pre-published papers at various stages of the review process


Cecil, C. A. M., Pickles, A., Hill, J., & Sharp, H. (2017) The Joint Contributions of Maternal Depression and Infant Negative Emotionality to Maternal Sensitivity to Infant Distress. PsyArXiv DOI: 10.17605/OSF.IO/7PSHJ. Read. https://psyarxiv.com/7pshj/


de Sousa, P., Sellwood, W., Fien, K., Sharp, H., Pickles, A., Hill, J., Bentall, R. P. (2017) Mapping early environment using communication deviance: A longitudinal study of maternal sensitivity towards 6-month-old children. PsyArXiv DOI: 10.17605/OSF.IO/EKXFT. https://psyarxiv.com/ekxft/


Hill, J., Pickles, A., Wright, N., & Sharp, H. (2017) Prenatal-postnatal maternal anxiety mismatch, maternal stroking, child irritability and general psychopathology ‘p’ at age 7 years; findings from the Wirral Child Health and Development Study. PsyArXiv DOI: 10.17605/OSF.IO/7WXRD. Read. https://psyarxiv.com/7wxrd/


Hill, J., Pickles, A., Wright, N., Quinn, P., Murgatroyd, C., & Sharp, H. (2017) Maternal depression and child behaviours: sex-dependent mediation by glucocorticoid receptor gene methylation in a longitudinal study from pregnancy to age 5 years. bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/187351. Read. https://www.biorxiv.org/content/early/2017/09/21/187351


Wright, N., Sharp, H., Pickles, A., & Hill, J. (2017) Measurement of callous-unemotional traits in very young children: a psychometric and validity study from 2.5 to 5.0 years. PsyArXiv DOI: 10.17605/OSF.IO/T7FN9. Read. https://osf.io/t7fn9