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Children whose mothers are highly stressed, anxious or depressed during pregnancy may be at higher risk for mental health and behavior issues during their childhood and teen years, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.

Tung and her colleagues analyzed data from 55 studies with more than 45,000 total participants. All the studies measured women’s psychological distress during pregnancy (including stress, depression or anxiety) and then later measured their children’s “externalizing behaviors” — mental health symptoms directed outward, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or aggression.

Overall, the researchers found that women who reported more anxiety, depression or stress while pregnant were more likely to have children with more ADHD symptoms or who exhibited more difficulties with aggressive or hostile behavior, as reported by parents or teachers.

The research was published in the journal Psychological Bulletin.

Research has long suggested a link between mothers’ mental health during pregnancy and children’s externalizing behaviors. However, many previous studies have not disentangled the effects of stress, anxiety or depression during pregnancy from the effects of parents’ psychological distress after a child is born.

A recent study has revealed a concerning link between maternal distress during pregnancy and an increased risk of mental health issues and behavior problems in children. This research underscores the importance of recognizing and addressing the mental well-being of expectant mothers, as it directly influences the long-term mental health outcomes of their children. Maternal distress, encompassing factors such as anxiety and depression during pregnancy, can have lasting implications on the psychological well-being of the child.

Key findings from the study emphasize the need for proactive interventions to support pregnant individuals facing distress, highlighting the potential positive impact on the mental health of the next generation. The article sheds light on the urgency of comprehensive care for expectant mothers to promote healthier maternal and child well-being outcomes.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction or mental health challenges, RehabNear.Me is here to help. Call us at 855-339-1112, and our compassionate team will provide guidance and connect you with appropriate addiction treatment resources and mental health support tailored to your unique needs. Seeking help is a courageous step towards a brighter and healthier future. Reach out today.


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Fel Clinical Director of Content
Felisa Laboro has been working with addiction and substance abuse businesses since early 2014. She has authored and published over 1,000 articles in the space. As a result of her work, over 1,500 people have been able to find treatment. She is passionate about helping people break free from alcohol or drug addiction and living a healthy life.

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