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Prenatal maternal anxiety and early childhood temperament.


The consequences of exposure to prenatal maternal anxiety for the development of child temperament were examined in a sample of 120 healthy, 2-year-old children. Prenatal maternal state and pregnancy-specific anxiety (PSA) were measured five times during pregnancy, and maternal state anxiety was measured again at 2 years post partum. Child temperament was measured at 2 years using the Early Childhood Behavior Questionnaire. The relationship between the trajectory of maternal anxiety across gestation and negative affectivity was evaluated using hierarchical linear growth curve modeling. Higher maternal PSA between 13 and 17 weeks of gestation was associated with increased negative temperament in the children. This association could not be explained by postnatal maternal anxiety, demographic, or obstetric factors. Prenatal maternal state anxiety was not associated with child temperament. These findings demonstrate that PSA early in gestation has a distinctive influence on the developing fetus.

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