Maternal pregnancy-specific anxiety is associated with child executive function at 6-9 years age

Department of Pediatrics, University of California Irvine, Orange 92868, USA.
Stress (Amsterdam, Netherlands) (Impact Factor: 3.46). 11/2011; 14(6):665-76. DOI: 10.3109/10253890.2011.623250
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Because fetal brain development proceeds at an extremely rapid pace, early life experiences have the potential to alter the trajectory of neurodevelopment, which may increase susceptibility for developmental and neuropsychiatric disorders. There is evidence that prenatal maternal stress and anxiety, especially worries specifically related to being pregnant, influence neurodevelopmental outcomes. In the current prospective longitudinal study, we included 89 women for whom serial data were available for pregnancy-specific anxiety, state anxiety, and depression at 15, 19, 25, 31, and 37 weeks gestation. When the offspring from the target pregnancy were between 6 and 9 years of age, their executive function was assessed. High levels of mean maternal pregnancy-specific anxiety over the course of gestation were associated with lower inhibitory control in girls only and lower visuospatial working memory performance in boys and girls. Higher-state anxiety and depression also were associated with lower visuospatial working memory performance. However, neither state anxiety nor depression explained any additional variance after accounting for pregnancy-specific anxiety. The findings contribute to the literature supporting an association between pregnancy-specific anxiety and cognitive development and extend our knowledge about the persistence of this effect until middle childhood.

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Available from: Elysia Poggi Davis, Aug 14, 2015
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    • "This finding is consistent with earlier reports of poorer reaction time of 15-year-old boys of highly anxious (>75th percentile) women, along with decreased performance on two IQ subtests (Van den Bergh et al., 2005, 2006). In contrast, analysis of school-age children revealed that higher maternal pregnancy-specific anxiety interfered with inhibitory control in girls but not boys (Buss et al., 2011). Maternal depressive symptoms are often measured within the constellation of maternal stress and anxiety. "
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    • "to each mother, in order to obtain information about three temperamental dimensions (i.e., surgency , negative affect, effortful control). Additionally, we used the Anxiety and Depression Hamilton scale [85] to assess these two aspects of the mother's mental health involved in selfregulation from the early stages of child development [86]. This information was used to evaluate potential differences between control and intervention groups at the beginning of the study. "
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    • "The aim of the present prospective study was to examine if maternal prenatal stress and cortisol are related to infants' behavioral and cortisol habituation to a repeated stressor in a relatively large, healthy, non-clinical group. We included maternal reports on general stress as well as on specific pregnancy-related anxieties and hassles, as these have been found to be important contributors to infant HPAaxis development in past studies (Gutteling et al., 2005; Tollenaar et al., 2011; Buss et al., 2011). Furthermore, we included maternal circadian cortisol concentrations as a measure of physiological stress levels (Beijers et al., 2010; de Weerth and Buitelaar, 2005a; Pruessner et al., 2003). "
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