Maternal anxiety and attention problems in children at 5 and 14 years
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Objective: This study examines the association between maternal anxiety from pregnancy to 5 years and child attention problems at 5 and 14 years. Method: Birth cohort of 3,982 individuals born in Brisbane between 1981 and 1983 are assessed. Self-reported measures of maternal anxiety are assessed at four time points. Maternal reports of child attention problems using Achenbach's Child Behavior Checklist are assessed at 5 and 14 years. Results: Children of mothers experiencing anxiety during or after pregnancy are at greater risk of experiencing attention problems at 5 and 14 years. After adjusting for maternal age and child's gender, antenatal anxiety is strongly associated with persistent attention problems (OR = 3.65, 95% CI = 2.19, 6.07). Children with chronically anxious mothers are 5.67 (95% CI = 3.56, 9.03) times more likely to have persistent attention problems. These associations remain consistent after adjusting for potential confounders. Conclusions: Maternal anxiety appears to increase the rate of child attention problems and identifies a need for treatment programs to have a dual focus-the mother and her child.
Journal of Attention Disorders