Posted by & filed under Child Development, Human Development, Physical Development: Birth, Motor Skills, and Growth, Prenatal Development.

Description: While it might not surprise you to hear that research has consistently demonstrated a relationship between the maternal stress during pregnancy and later cognitive and emotional difficulties among the children born of those pregnancies what might you expect in the way of a possible relationship between maternal stress during pregnancy and the level of motor development and motor skill amongst children of those pregnancies up to 17 years after birth?

Source: Pregnancy Stress Affects Development Of Child’s Motor Skills: Study, Tech Times Ted Ranosa

Date: October 15, 2015


Maternal Stress

Photo Credit: Raul Hernandez Gonzalez | Flickr

Links: Article Link —

Research has consistently shown a relationship between maternal stress during pregnancy and sub- optimal development in the areas of mental cognitive and behavioural growth on the part of their children. The research paper described in this media article indicates that there also may be a relationship between maternal stress during pregnancy and later child motor development. In this large-scale Australian study, nearly 3000 mothers were asked questions early and late in their pregnancies regarding their level of stress and their experience of potentially stressful life events. After they gave birth their children’s motor skills and coordination development were assessed at 10, 14 and 17 years of age. The researchers found a significant negative relationship between level of maternal stress during pregnancy and their child’s subsequent motor and coordination development. This means that mothers experience higher levels of stress have children with comparatively lower levels of motor coordination at each of the three ages at which they were assessed. The researchers suggested that these findings could be related to the negative effects of maternal stress on the development of children’s cerebral cortex during the prenatal developmental period. They also indicate, however, that the source of deficits can be addressed through intervention and support provided the identified early.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is the relationship between maternal stress during pregnancy and subsequent child development? What developmental areas are affected?
  2. What sorts of things should we be thinking about providing in the way of advice, support, and services for pregnant women in light of findings such as those reported in this article?
  3. How much control do parents typically have in relation to their levels of stress, and what sorts of supports might be of assistance (and who should provide those supports)?

References (Read Further):

Beth Hands et al. (2015) The Impact of Maternal Gestational Stress on Motor Development in Late Childhood and Adolescence: A Longitudinal Study. Child Development, DOI: 10.1111/cdev.12449

Mulder, E. J. H., De Medina, P. R., Huizink, A. C., Van den Bergh, B. R. H., Buitelaar, J. K., & Visser, G. H. A. (2002). Prenatal maternal stress: effects on pregnancy and the (unborn) child. Early human development, 70(1), 3-14.

Feinberg, M. E., Roettger, M. E., Jones, D. E., Paul, I. M., & Kan, M. L. (2015). Effects of a psychosocial couple-based prevention program on adverse birth outcomes. Maternal and child health journal, 19(1), 102-111.

Bussières, E. L., Tarabulsy, G. M., Pearson, J., Tessier, R., Forest, J. C., & Giguère, Y. (2015). Maternal prenatal stress and infant birth weight and gestational age: A meta-analysis of prospective studies. Developmental Review, 36, 179-199.