A1 Journal article – refereed
Maternal prenatal stress and infant emotional reactivity six months postpartum

List of Authors: Saara Nolvi, Linnea Karlsson, David J. Bridgett, Riikka Korja, Anja C. Huizink, Eeva-Leena Kataja, Hasse Karlsson
Publisher: Elsevier
Publication year: 2016
Journal: Journal of Affective Disorders
Volume number: 199


Background: Maternal prenatal stress has been related to infant negative affect. However, it is still unclear
how different sources of maternal prenatal stress such as depressive, anxiety and pregnancy-specific
anxiety symptoms are associated with reactivity outcomes. This study aimed to test the associations
between different sources of maternal prenatal stress and the aspects of infant emotional reactivity at six
Method: Our study population (n¼282) was drawn from the FinnBrain Birth Cohort Study. Prenatal
stress was measured by questionnaires on maternal depression, general anxiety and pregnancy-specific
anxiety at three time points across pregnancy (gwk 14, 24, 34). Based on the symptom scores, the sample
was divided into mothers with high stress during pregnancy (n¼110) and mothers with low stress
during pregnancy (n¼172). Mother-reported infant emotional reactivity and its subscales were measured
six months postpartum.
Results: After controlling for background variables and maternal postnatal symptoms, overall negative
emotional reactivity (β¼0.20, po0.01), and its aspects fearfulness (β¼0.15, p¼.057) and falling reactivity
(β¼0.22, po0.01), were predicted by only pregnancy-specific anxiety. No significant predictors
were found for infant positive reactivity after adjusting for confounders.
Limitations: Mother reports of both maternal symptoms and infant reactivity were used, which might
increase the risk of reporting bias.
Conclusions: The findings suggest that mothers experiencing stress should be provided intervention
during pregnancy, and that screening should have a particular focus on pregnancy-related worries.

Last updated on 2019-21-08 at 23:30