Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-5959bf8d4d-qtfcj Total loading time: 0.48 Render date: 2022-12-10T05:14:36.868Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "useRatesEcommerce": false } hasContentIssue true

Prenatal stress and risk of behavioral morbidity from age 2 to 14 years: The influence of the number, type, and timing of stressful life events

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 April 2011

Monique Robinson*
Affiliation:
University of Western Australia
Eugen Mattes
Affiliation:
University of Western Australia
Wendy H. Oddy
Affiliation:
University of Western Australia
Craig E. Pennell
Affiliation:
University of Western Australia
Anke van Eekelen
Affiliation:
University of Western Australia
Neil J. McLean
Affiliation:
University of Western Australia
Peter Jacoby
Affiliation:
University of Western Australia
Jianghong Li
Affiliation:
Curtin University
Nicholas H. De Klerk
Affiliation:
University of Western Australia
Stephen R. Zubrick
Affiliation:
Curtin University
Fiona J. Stanley
Affiliation:
University of Western Australia
John P. Newnham
Affiliation:
Curtin University
*
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Monique Robinson, Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, Center for Child Health Research, University of Western Australia, P.O. Box 855, West Perth, WA 6872, Australia; E-mail: moniquer@ichr.uwa.edu.au.

Abstract

The maternal experience of stressful events during pregnancy has been associated with a number of adverse consequences for behavioral development in offspring, but the measurement and interpretation of prenatal stress varies among reported studies. The Raine Study recruited 2900 pregnancies and recorded life stress events experienced by 18 and 34 weeks' gestation along with numerous sociodemographic data. The mother's exposure to life stress events was further documented when the children were followed-up in conjunction with behavioral assessments at ages 2, 5, 8, 10, and 14 years using the Child Behavior Checklist. The maternal experience of multiple stressful events during pregnancy was associated with subsequent behavioral problems for offspring. Independent (e.g., death of a relative, job loss) and dependent stress events (e.g., financial problems, marital problems) were both significantly associated with a greater incidence of mental health morbidity between age 2 and 14 years. Exposure to stressful events in the first 18 weeks of pregnancy showed similar associations with subsequent total and externalizing morbidity to events reported at 34 weeks of gestation. These results were independent of postnatal stress exposure. Improved support for women with chronic stress exposure during pregnancy may improve the mental health of their offspring in later life.

Type
Regular Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2011

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

Achenbach, T. M. (1991). Manual for the Child Behavior Checklist/4–18 and 1991 profile. Burlington, VT: University of Vermont, Department of Psychiatry.Google Scholar
Achenbach, T. M., Edelbrock, C., & Howell, C. T. (1987). Empirically based assessment of the behavioural/emotional problems of 2- and 3-year-old children. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 15, 629650.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Austin, M.-P., Hadzi-Pavlovic, D., Leader, L., Saint, K., & Parker, G. (2005). Maternal trait anxiety, depression and life event stress in pregnancy: Relationships with infant temperament. Early Human Development, 81, 183190.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Austin, M.-P., Leader, L., & Reilly, N. (2005). Prenatal stress, the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis, and fetal and infant neurobehaviour. Early Human Development, 81, 917926.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Baum, A., Garofalo, J. P., & Yali, A. M. (1999). Socioeconomic status and chronic stress: Does stress account for SES effects on health? Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 896, 131144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bérubé, R. L., & Achenbach, T. M. (2007). Bibliography of published studies using the ASEBA. Burlington, VT: University of Vermont, Research Center for Children, Youth, & Families.Google Scholar
Brugha, T. S., & Cragg, D. (1990). The List of Threatening Experiences: The reliability and validity of a brief life events questionnaire. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 82, 7781.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Carmichael, S. L., Shaw, G. M., Yang, W., Abrams, B., & Lammer, E. J. (2007). Maternal stressful life events and risks of birth defects. Epidemiology, 18, 356361.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Cohen, S., Kamarck, T., & Mermelstein, R. (1983). A global measure of perceived stress. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 24, 385396.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Cowan, P. A., & Cowan, C. P. (2002). Interventions as tests of family systems theories: Marital and family relationships in children's development and psychopathology. Development and Psychopathology, 14, 731759.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
DiPietro, J. A. (2004). The role of prenatal maternal stress in child development. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 13, 7174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Dohrenwend, B. S., & Dohrenwend, B. P. (1978). Some issues in research on stressful life events. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 166, 715.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Dole, N., Savitz, D. A., Hertz-Picciotto, I., Siega-Riz, A. M., McMahon, M. J., & Buekens, P. (2003). Maternal stress and preterm birth. American Journal of Epidemiology, 157, 1424.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Entringer, S., Wust, S., Kumsta, R., Layes, I. M., Nelson, E. L., Hellhammer, D. H., et al. (2008). Prenatal psychosocial stress exposure is associated with insulin resistance in young adults. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 199, 498.e1–498.e7.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Field, T., & Diego, M. (2008). Cortisol: The culprit prenatal stress variable. International Journal of Neuroscience, 118, 11811205.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
French, N. P., Hagan, R., Evans, S. F., Mullan, A., & Newnham, J. P. (2004). Repeated antenatal corticosteroids: Effects on cerebral palsy and childhood behavior. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 190, 588595.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Geller, P. A. (2004). Pregnancy as a stressful life event. CNS Spectrums, 9, 188197.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Glynn, L. M., Dunkel-Schetter, C., Wadhwa, P. D., & Sandman, C. A. (2004). Pregnancy affects appraisal of negative life events. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 56, 4752.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Glynn, L. M., Wadhwa, P. D., Dunkel-Schetter, C., Chicz-Demet, A., & Sandman, C. A. (2001). When stress happens matters: effects of earthquake timing on stress responsivity in pregnancy. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 184, 637642.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Gravelle, H. (1998). How much of the relation between population mortality and unequal distribution of income is a statistical artefact? British Medical Journal, 316, 382385.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Hammen, C. (1991). Generation of stress in the course of unipolar depression. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 100, 555561.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Hedegaard, M., Henriksen, T. B., Sabroe, S., & Secher, N. J. (1993). Psychological distress in pregnancy and preterm delivery. British Medical Journal, 307, 234239.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Holmes, T. H., & Rahe, R. H. (1967). The Social Readjustment Rating Scale. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 11, 213218.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Hook, B., Hagglof, B., & Thernlund, G. (1995). Life events and behavioural deviances in childhood: A longitudinal study of a normal population. European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 4, 153164.Google ScholarPubMed
Huizink, A. C., Robles de Medina, P. G., Mulder, E. J. H., Visser, G. H. A., & Buitelaar, J. K. (2003). Stress during pregnancy is associated with developmental outcome in infancy. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 44, 810818.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Kammerer, M., Taylor, A., & Glover, V. (2006). The HPA axis and perinatal depression: A hypothesis. Archives of Women's Mental Health, 9, 187196.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Kofman, O. (2002). The role of prenatal stress in the etiology of developmental behavioural disorders. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 26, 457470.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Laplante, D. P., Barr, R. G., Brunet, A., Galbaud du Fort, G., Meaney, M. L., Saucier, J. F., et al. (2004). Stress during pregnancy affects general intellectual and language functioning in human toddlers. Pediatric Research, 56, 400410.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Leonhardt, M., Matthews, S. G., Meaney, M. J., & Walker, C. D. (2007). Psychological stressors as a model of maternal adversity: Diurnal modulation of corticosterone responses and changes in maternal behavior. Hormones and Behavior, 51, 7788.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Li, J., Kendall, G. E., Henderson, S., Downie, J., Landsborough, L., & Oddy, W. H. (2008). Maternal psychosocial wellbeing in pregnancy and breastfeeding duration. Acta Paediatrica, 97, 221225.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lobel, M. (1994). Conceptualizations, measurement, and effects of prenatal maternal stress on birth outcomes. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 17, 225272.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Malaspina, D., Corcoran, C., Kleinhaus, K. R., Perrin, M. C., Fennig, S., Nahon, D., et al. (2008). Acute maternal stress in pregnancy and schizophrenia in offspring: A cohort prospective study. BMC Psychiatry, 8, 71.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Mastorakos, G., & Ilias, I. (2000). Maternal hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis in pregnancy and the postpartum period. Postpartum-related disorders. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 900, 95106.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Monroe, S. M., & Reid, M. W. (2008). Gene–environment interactions in depression research: Genetic polymorphisms and life-stress polyprocedures. Psychological Science, 19, 947956.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Newnham, J. P., Evans, S. F., Michael, C. A., Stanley, F. J., & Landau, L. I. (1993). Effects of frequent ultrasound during pregnancy: A randomised controlled trial. Lancet, 342, 887891.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Newnham, J. P., Moss, T. J., Nitsos, I., Sloboda, D. M., & Challis, J. R. G. (2002). Nutrition and the early origins of adult disease. Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 11 (Suppl. 3), S537S542.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
O'Connor, T. G., Heron, J., Golding, J., Beveridge, M., & Glover, V. (2002). Maternal antenatal anxiety and children's behavioural/emotional problems at 4 years: Report from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. British Journal of Psychiatry, 180, 502508.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Paarlberg, K. M., Vingerhoets, A. J., Passchier, J., Dekker, G. A., Heinen, A. G., & van Geijn, H. P. (1999). Psychosocial predictors of low birthweight: A prospective study. British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 106, 834841.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Paarlberg, K. M., Vingerhoets, A. J., Passchier, J., Dekker, G. A., & Van Geijn, H. P. (1995). Psychosocial factors and pregnancy outcome: A review with emphasis on methodological issues. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 39, 563595.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Robertson, E., Grace, S., Wallington, T., & Stewart, D. E. (2004). Antenatal risk factors for postpartum depression: A synthesis of recent literature. General Hospital Psychiatry, 26, 289295.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Robinson, M., Oddy, W. H., Li, J., Kendall, G. E., de Klerk, N. H., Silburn, S. R., et al. (2008). Pre- and postnatal influences on preschool mental health: A large-scale cohort study. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 49, 11181128.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Robinson, M., Oddy, W. H., McLean, N. J., Jacoby, P., Pennell, C. E., de Klerk, N. H., et al. (2010). Low-moderate prenatal alcohol exposure and risk to child behavioural development: A prospective cohort study. British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 117, 11391152.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Rodriguez, A., & Bohlin, G. (2005). Are maternal smoking and stress during pregnancy related to ADHD symptoms in children? Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 46, 246254.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Rondo, P. H., Ferreira, R. F., Nogueira, F., Ribeiro, M. C., Lobert, H., & Artes, R. (2003). Maternal psychological stress and distress as predictors of low birth weight, prematurity and intrauterine growth retardation. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 57, 266272.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Rudolph, K. D., & Hammen, C. (1999). Age and gender as determinants of stress exposure, generation, and reactions in youngsters: A transactional perspective. Child Development, 70, 660677.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Safford, S. M., Alloy, L. B., Abramson, L. Y., & Crossfield, A. G. (2007). Negative cognitive style as a predictor of negative life events in depression-prone individuals: A test of the stress generation hypothesis. Journal of Affective Disorders, 99, 147154.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Saunders, T. A., Lobel, M., Veloso, C., & Meyer, B. A. (2006). Prenatal maternal stress is associated with delivery analgesia and unplanned cesareans. Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics & Gynecology, 27, 141146.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Schneider, M. L., Roughton, E. C., Koehler, A. J., & Lubach, G. R. (1999). Growth and development following prenatal stress exposure in primates: An examination of ontogenetic vulnerability. Child Development, 70, 263274.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Seckl, J. R., & Holmes, M. C. (2007). Mechanisms of disease: Glucocorticoids, their placental metabolism and fetal “programming” of adult pathophysiology. Nature Clinical Practice Endocrinology and Metabolism, 3, 479488.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Seguin, L., Potvin, L., St-Denis, M., & Loiselle, J. (1995). Chronic stressors, social support, and depression during pregnancy. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 85, 583589.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Sloboda, D. M., Challis, J. R., Moss, T. J., & Newnham, J. P. (2005). Synthetic glucocorticoids: Antenatal administration and long-term implications. Current Pharmaceutical Design, 11, 14591472.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Spauwen, J., Krabbendam, L., Lieb, R., Wittchen, H. U., & van Os, J. (2004). Early maternal stress and health behaviours and offspring expression of psychosis in adolescence. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 110, 356364.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Talge, N. M., Neal, C., & Glover, V. (2007). Antenatal maternal stress and long-term effects on child neurodevelopment: how and why? Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 48, 245261.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Tennant, C., & Andrews, G. (1976). A scale to measure the stress of life events. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 10, 2732.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Urizar, G. G. Jr., Milazzo, M., Le, H. N., Delucchi, K., Sotelo, R., & Munoz, R. F. (2004). Impact of stress reduction instructions on stress and cortisol levels during pregnancy. Biological Psychology, 67, 275282.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Van den Bergh, B. R., Mulder, E. J., Mennes, M., & Glover, V. (2005). Antenatal maternal anxiety and stress and the neurobehavioural development of the fetus and child: Links and possible mechanisms. A review. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 29, 237258.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Villar, J., Farnot, U., Barros, F., Victora, C., Langer, A., & Belizan, J. M. (1992). A randomized trial of psychosocial support during high-risk pregnancies. The Latin American Network for Perinatal and Reproductive Research. New England Journal of Medicine, 327, 12661271.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Wadhwa, P. D., Culhane, J. F., Rauh, V., Barve, S. S., Hogan, V., Sandman, C. A., et al. (2001). Stress, infection and preterm birth: A biobehavioural perspective. Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology, 15(Suppl. 2), 1729.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Wadhwa, P. D., Dunkel-Schetter, C., Chicz-DeMet, A., Porto, M., & Sandman, C. A. (1996). Prenatal psychosocial factors and the neuroendocrine axis in human pregnancy. Psychosomatic Medicine, 58, 432446.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Wadhwa, P. D., Sandman, C. A., Porto, M., Dunkel-Schetter, C., & Garite, T. J. (1993). The association between prenatal stress and infant birth weight and gestational age at birth: A prospective investigation. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 169, 858865.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Warnick, E. M., Bracken, M. B., & Kasl, S. (2008). Screening efficiency of the Child Behavior Checklist and Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire: A systematic review. Child and Adolescent Mental Health, 13, 140147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wethington, E., Brown, G. W., & Kessler, R. C. (1995). Interview measurement of stressful life events. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Wolfson, M., Kaplan, G., Lynch, J., Ross, N., & Backlund, E. (1999). Relation between income inequality and mortality: Empirical demonstration. British Medical Journal, 319, 953955.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Zubrick, S., Silburn, S., Gurrin, L., Teoh, H., Shepherd, C., Carlton, J., et al. (1997). Western Australian Child Health Survey: Education, health and competence. Perth, Australia: Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research.Google Scholar
79
Cited by

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Prenatal stress and risk of behavioral morbidity from age 2 to 14 years: The influence of the number, type, and timing of stressful life events
Available formats
×

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Prenatal stress and risk of behavioral morbidity from age 2 to 14 years: The influence of the number, type, and timing of stressful life events
Available formats
×

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Prenatal stress and risk of behavioral morbidity from age 2 to 14 years: The influence of the number, type, and timing of stressful life events
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *