Children of anxious mothers twice as likely to have hyperactivity in adolescence

Posted on September 12, 2019

Prenatal factors have been known to exert long term effects on the development and health of children. A longitudinal study consisting of more than 3000 children participants have identified maternal anxiety as one such factor, as children of anxious mothers were found to have a higher tendency of showing hyperactivity symptoms.

The study, known as the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), is based in the UK and enables researchers to follow the development of these children over a long period of time.

Researchers collected information about the symptoms of anxiety experienced by mothers during the period between the early stage of their pregnancy and when their child reaches 5 years old. The mothers were then categorized according to their anxiety levels – low anxiety, medium anxiety and high anxiety.

At 8 and a half years old, the children participants were assessed for their attentional abilities. Researchers concluded that at this age, there were no associations between the children’s attentional capacity and the anxious levels of their mothers. When the same children were tested again at 16 years old, it was found that there was a significant difference in the hyperactivity symptoms.

A child whose mother had experienced high anxiety was about two times more likely to show signs of hyperactivity than a child whose mother had low levels of anxiety. Other ADHD symptoms like inattention was not found to be significant in these children.

However, since the study was only able to show associations between a mother’s anxiety and her child’s hyperactivity, it is not guaranteed that anxiousness experienced in mothers during pregnancy and early childhood causes hyperactivity in children when they are older.

Category(s):Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Pregnancy & Birthing

Source material from Science Daily

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