FRIDAY, April 22 (HealthDay News) -- Women who experience
repeated stressful events while pregnant are more likely to have
children with behavioral problems, a new study suggests.
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 such problems.
She and her colleagues analyzed data from nearly 3,000 pregnant
women who reported stressful events at 18 and 34 weeks of
pregnancy. Of those women, about 37 percent reported two or more
stress events and nearly 8 percent reported six or more.
Money and relationship problems, job loss, issues with other
children, a difficult pregnancy and a death in the family were
among the stressful events cited by the women.
The behavior of the women's children was assessed at ages 2, 5,
8, 10 and 14 years.
"What we have found is that it is the overall number of stresses
that is most related to child behavior outcomes," Robinson said in
a news release from the institute. "Two or fewer stresses during
pregnancy are not associated with poor child behavioral
development, but as the number of stresses increase to three or
more, then the risks of more difficult child behavior
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, the
The findings were published online April 18 in
Development and Psychopathology.
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