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Associations between child development and women's attitudes to pregnancy and motherhood

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A woman's psychological state during pregnancy has been shown in previous research to be predictive of her adaptation to maternal functioning. Two hypotheses were examined: (a) women who have a negative attitude to pregnancy and motherhood have children who exhibit slower development at 2 years, compared with children of women who have more positive attitudes; (b) women with poor psychological health antenatally have children who exhibit slower development at 2 years, compared with children of women who have good psychological health antenatally. Three aspects of child development were assessed: cognitive, motor and behaviour, as measured using the Bayley Scales of Infant Development. This prospective, longitudinal study recruited primiparous women in the last trimester of pregnancy, registered at seven health centres in socially deprived areas of Bristol City ( N ?=?436). Baseline data were collected antenatally, and postnatally at 6 weeks, 1 year and 2 years. Developmental assessments were administered at 1 and 2 years of age. Fifty-seven percent of women had planned their pregnancy. Using the EPDS, 25% scored above the cut-off (12/13) for risk of depression antenatally. Multivariable analyses found associations between advanced cognitive development and children whose mothers had been aware of the changes that motherhood might bring. Associations were also found between cognitive development and pregnant women who scored below the cut-off for risk of depression (EPDS<13). The effect sizes were small and could therefore be due to chance, but the associations were consistent.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Centre for Child & Adolescent Health, University of Bristol, UK

Publication date: February 1, 2005

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