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Childhood shyness and maternal social phobia: A community study

  • Peter J. Cooper (a1) and Marian Eke (a1)

Abstract

Background

Family history data suggest the possibility of an association between childhood shyness and parental social phobia.

Aims

To examine the prevalence of maternal affective disorder in a community sample of four-year-old shy and non-shy children.

Method

By screening 867 children, 43 shy children, 59 children with another form of disturbance (i.e. fearfulness, feeding problem or conduct problem) and 26 children with no disturbance were identified. Interviewers who were unaware of child status used a standardised mental state assessment to determine the rate of affective disorder in the mothers of these children.

Results

Compared with the mothers of the children in both comparison groups, the mothers of the children who were purely shy (i.e. shy children with no comorbid condition) had a significantly raised lifetime rate of anxiety disorder in general, and social phobia in particular. The odds ratio of a social phobia in the mothers of the purely shy children was raised over the normal control group by a factor of more than seven.

Conclusions

These findings suggest a specific association between childhood shyness and maternal social phobia.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Professor Peter Cooper, Winnicott Research Unit, Department of Psychology, University of Reading, 3 Earley Gate, Whiteknights, Reading RG6 6AL, UK

Footnotes

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Declaration of interest

Supported by the Tedworth Trust.

Footnotes

References

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Childhood shyness and maternal social phobia: A community study

  • Peter J. Cooper (a1) and Marian Eke (a1)

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Childhood shyness and maternal social phobia: A community study

  • Peter J. Cooper (a1) and Marian Eke (a1)
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