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Welcome to SPIRAL!

The Stress in Pregnancy International Research Alliance program is aimed at increasing understanding of how maternal stress during pregnancy affects the developing fetus. Rather than studying everyday stressors (i.e. job, family, or relationship stress), or maternal anxiety, our team makes use of natural disasters that have occurred around the world. Natural disasters provide unique opportunities to study the effects of prenatal maternal stress on offspring outcomes because they are “independent stressors” which distribute hardship to pregnant women in a random manner, in varying degrees, and at various times during pregnancy.

The SPIRAL program involves assessing stress through a variety of means, including pregnant women’s ratings of objective stress exposure (specific events experienced) and their subjective levels of distress (personal account of “distress”) to the crisis, as well as through stress hormones, such as cortisol. Our primary goal is to examine how these factors influence the exposed children’s cognitive, behavioural, physical, and motor functioning across development.

Members of SPIRAL are currently involved in five studies:

  1. Project Ice Storm
  2. The Iowa Flood Study
  3. The Queensland Flood Study (QF2011)
  4. The Fort McMurray Fire Study
  5. The Hurricane Harvey Flood Study

We encourage you to browse through our website and we look forward to your return. 

If you have any questions, please feel free to spiral [at] douglas.mcgill.ca (contact us).