Maternal late pregnancy anxiety and stress is associated with children's health: A longitudinal study
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SourceStress : The International Journal on the Biology of Stress, 20, 5, (2017), pp. 495-504
Article / Letter to editor
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Stress : The International Journal on the Biology of Stress
Aim: Maternal prenatal anxiety and stress (PNS) have been positively associated to physical health prob lems in offspring in the first year of life. Whether these associations are transient, persistent, or even progressive over time, is as yet unknown. The goal of this study is to investigate associations between late pregnancy PNS and child health from 18 months to age 6.Methods: Mothers were recruited in late pregnancy, and had uncomplicated, singleton pregnancies without physical health problems. Around week 37 of pregnancy, mothers reported on their PNS by means of questionnaires, and provided saliva for determination of circadian cortisol concentrations. Children's illnesses in the preceding year were assessed using maternal reports at 30, 48, 60, and 72 months. Antibiotic use was obtained from medical records between one and six years. Multilevel models (N¼174) showed a positive relation between maternal prenatal general and pregnancy-specific anxiety during late pregnancy and offspring respiratory illnesses and symptoms. Interaction effects with time indicated that more PNS was related to more respiratory illnesses until toddlerhood, but not later in life. Furthermore, maternal prenatal cortisol concentrations were related to child digestive illnesses. A steeper maternal cortisol decline over the day was related to more child digestive illnesses, until around three years of age. Finally, children of mothers who suffered more from daily hassles during pregnancy received more antibiotics between one and six years of age. PNS was not related to general and skin illnesses.Conclusion: Summarizing, this study showed that late pregnancy anxiety and cortisol was associated with children?s respiratory and digestive illnesses till the age of 3.0?3.5 years. Additionally, more daily hassles were related to more prescribed antibiotics between one and six years. These findings point in the direction of possible effects of PNS persisting beyond the first year of life and into toddlerhood, but disappearing at older ages.
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