A new study suggests that women who are repeatedly stressed while pregnant are more likely to have children with behavioral problems.
Dr. Monique Robinson, a psychologist at the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research in Perth, Australia, and the study's lead author, said that previous research had shown a link between stress during pregnancy and behavior problems in children but that the new study took that further by examining the timing, amount and kinds of stressful events that lead to certain problems.
They analyzed data from nearly 3,000 pregnant women who reported stressful events at 18 and 34 weeks of pregnancy. (Of those women) about 37% reported 2 or more stress events and nearly 8% reported 6 or more.
Stressful events cited by the women were job loss, relationship & money issues, problems with other children, a difficult pregnancy or a death in the family.
The behavior of the women's children was assessed at ages 2, 5, 8, 10 and 14 years.
Dr Monique Robinson said "What we have found is that it is the overall number of stresses that is most related to child behavior outcomes. Two or fewer stresses during pregnancy are not associated with poor child behavioral development, but as the number of stresses increase to 3 or more, then the risks of more difficult child behavior increase."
The study reported the actual type of stress experienced was found to be less important than the number of stressful events. Whether the stresses occurred early or late in pregnancy did not influence risk.
30 May 2011