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Early Hum Dev. 2008 Nov;84(11):745-50. doi: 10.1016/j.earlhumdev.2008.05.002. Epub 2008 Jun 20.

Do the emotional states of pregnant women affect neonatal behaviour?

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Rovira i Virgili University, Ctra. Valls S/N, 43007 Tarragona, Spain.


The emotional states of pregnant women affect the course of their pregnancies, their deliveries and the behaviour and development of their infants. The aim of this study is to analyse the influence of positive and negative maternal emotional states on neonatal behaviour at 2-3 days after birth. A sample of 163 healthy full-term newborns was evaluated using the Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale. Maternal anxiety, perceived stress, and emotional stability during pregnancy were evaluated in the immediate postpartum period with the State Trait Anxiety Inventory and the Perceived Stress Scale. Moderate levels of anxiety during pregnancy alter infant orientation and self-regulation. These aspects of infant behaviour could lead to later attachment, behavioural and developmental problems. Maternal emotional stability during pregnancy improves infant self-regulation and several aspects of infant behaviour that may predispose them to better interactions with their parents.

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