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J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2002 Sep;41(9):1078-85.

Psychological measures of prenatal stress as predictors of infant temperament.

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  • 1Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Utrecht University Medical Centre, Rudolf Magnus Institute for Neuroscience, The Netherlands.



To examine, in a prospective study, whether maternal stress during pregnancy is related to infant temperament.


Self-report data on various aspects of prenatal stress were collected from nulliparous women in early pregnancy. Infant temperament was measured at 3 and 8 months by direct observation and by parent report.


Complete data were available for 170 term-born infants. Pregnancy-specific anxiety explained 3.3% of the variance of attention regulation at 3 months. Perceived stress and pregnancy anxiety taken together explained 5% of the variance of attention regulation at 8 months. Perceived stress accounted for 8.2% of the variance of difficult behavior of the 3-month-old infant. All results were adjusted for covariates.


Increased maternal prenatal stress seems to be associated with temperamental variation of young infants and may be a risk factor for psychopathology later in life.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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