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Parental Psychological Distress During Pregnancy and Early Growth in Preschool Children: The Generation R Study

08 Mar 2013

This study separately assessed the associations of maternal and paternal psychological distress during pregnancy with early growth in preschool children. The study was based on data from a population-based cohort study involving 5,283 children and their parents (with data collected beginning in early pregnancy) in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, from 2002 to 2006. Information on parental psychological distress (symptoms of depression, anxiety, hostility, and family stress) was obtained by questionnaire in the second trimester of gestation by using the Brief Symptom Inventory and the "general functioning" subscale of the McMaster Family Assessment Device. Child height, weight, and body mass index (weight (kg)/height (m)2) were measured repeatedly from age 3 months to age 4 years. We observed no consistent associations between overall maternal psychological symptoms, depression, anxiety, or hostility and child height, weight, or body mass index after adjustment for confounders. All maternal psychological distress scores were positively associated with the risk of overweight in childhood; however, these associations attenuated toward the null and became nonsignificant after adjusting for potential confounders. We did not observe consistent associations between paternal psychological distress and growth in childhood. These results indicate that social, behavioral, or environmental factors that cluster with parental psychological distress may explain the previously suggested associations between maternal psychological distress and early childhood growth and risk of overweight.

Date: 
8 March 2013

Click here to view the full article which appeared in American Journal of Epidemiology