According to a study released by the American Psychological Association, conducted by Tung, I., Hipwell, A. E., Cannova, E., English, G., Quick, A. D., Llamas, Grosse, P., Battaglia, L., B., Taylor, M., & Foust, J. E (2023) published by Psychological Bulletin Journal. Children whose moms are extremely worried, nervous, or depressed during pregnancy may be more vulnerable to mental health and behavioural problems during childhood and adolescence.
Prenatal Psychological Distress:
Tung and associates examined information from 55 research, including over 45,000 participants. All of the studies assessed the psychological distress that pregnant women experienced (such as stress, depression, or anxiety), and the study also assessed the “expressing behaviours” that their offspring displayed—such as aggression or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Only studies where mothers’ psychological discomfort was assessed during and after pregnancy were included in the current investigation. Researchers discovered that emotional suffering during pregnancy, in particular, raised the chance of expressing difficulties in children, even after adjusting for postnatal psychological distress.
Whether the kids were females or boys had no bearing on the effect. The effect was most pronounced in early infancy, but it was also true for kids in middle childhood (years 6–12), adolescence (ages 13–18), and early childhood (ages 2–5). The researchers concluded that the results align with ideas indicating that prenatal exposure to stress hormones may impact a child’s brain development.
The researchers discovered that pregnant women who experienced higher levels of anxiety, depression, or stress were more likely to give birth to children who displayed higher levels of ADHD symptoms or had more issues with aggressive or hostile behaviour, as reported by carers or educators.
Insights from 55 Research Studies:
According to study author Irene Tung, PhD, of California State University, Dominguez Hills, “Our research suggests that emotional distress during the pregnancy period has a slight but lasting effect on children’s risk for aggressive, disinhibited, and rash behaviours. These results support the theory that offering easily available mental health services and support to expectant mothers could be a crucial first step in preventing behavioural issues in their offspring.”
According to Tung, “future studies should concentrate on broadening their scope to comprehend the cultural and socioeconomic factors that influence perinatal stress and to create successful therapies. Most previous studies have concentrated on middle-class, white, highly educated populations. However, it is well established that having to deal with racism, economic inequality, and limited access to healthcare can add to stress during pregnancy. To create equitable public health policies and interventions, it is imperative to comprehend how psychological discomfort during pregnancy affects marginalised families.”