Prenatal Parental Stress Linked to Behaviour Problems in Toddlers

Posted on August 6, 2019

A new study carried out by researchers from the Universities of Cambridge, Birmingham, New York and Leiden has found that the emotional wellbeing of parents who are expecting a child has an impact on their child’s future development. The results emphasis more support for partners prior to their pregnancy, during the pregnancy and even after the child is delivered, so as to enhance the welfare of the child.

438 couples expecting their first child participated in the study, which investigates impact of the wellbeing of both parents on their children before and after birth. The experiences of the parents with their first child were recorded during the 4th, 14th and 24th months after birth through interviews and standardized questionnaires.

Results showed that the prenatal mental health of mothers is associated with behavioral issues observed in children when they are 24 months old. Mothers who felt stressed out during their pregnancy tend to have children who are more tempestuous and restless. Furthermore, the children had a greater likelihood of having emotional issues when their parents engaged in postnatal conflicts.

While characteristics such as temperament and behavioral issues might be accounted for by genetic factors, researchers have accounted for this and concluded that the wellbeing of parents during pregnancy does in fact have an impact on the wellbeing of children.

This study underlines the importance of providing better help for couples to prepare for parenthood. It has also brought to light the experiences of first-time fathers, which are often overlooked. As such, the wellbeing of both the mother and father has to be taken into account as problems in the relationships within a family can affect children negatively in the long run.

Category(s):Caregiver Issues / Stress, Couple Counseling, Pregnancy & Birthing

Source material from Science Daily