Finland: Stress in pregnancy linked to child personality disorders

07 November 2019

Children born to women who experience severe stress when pregnant are more likely to develop a personality disorder by the age of 30, a new study suggests.

Moderate prolonged stress could also have an impact.

Researchers assessed 3626 women in Helsinki, comparing self-reported stress levels, collected during monthly antenatal clinic appointments, with instances of personality disorder in their children.

The paper, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, concluded that children whose mothers experienced stress or moderate stress while pregnant were three times more likely to develop a personality disorder by the time they reached the age of 30.

Children whose mothers experienced severe antenatal stress were 10 times more likely to develop a personality disorder.

Lead author Ross Brannigan said that while the study doesn’t prove a causal relationship it ‘highlights the importance of providing mental health and stress support to both pregnant women and families during the antenatal and postnatal period’.

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