University of Oulu

Lähdepuro, A., Lahti-Pulkkinen, M., Pyhälä, R., Tuovinen, S., Lahti, J., Heinonen, K., Laivuori, H., Villa, P.M., Reynolds, R.M., Kajantie, E., Girchenko, P. and Räikkönen, K. (2023), Positive maternal mental health during pregnancy and mental and behavioral disorders in children: A prospective pregnancy cohort study. J Child Psychol Psychiatr, 64: 807-816.

Positive maternal mental health during pregnancy and mental and behavioral disorders in children : a prospective pregnancy cohort study

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Author: Lähdepuro, Anna1; Lahti-Pulkkinen, Marius1,2,3; Pyhälä, Riikka1;
Organizations: 1Department of Psychology and Logopedics, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
2Population Health Unit, Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki and Oulu, Finland
3Centre for Cardiovascular Science, Queen’s Medical Research Institute, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
4Psychology/Welfare Sciences, Tampere University, Tampere, Finland
5Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland, Helsinki Institute of Life Science, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
6Department of Medical and Clinical Genetics, University of Helsinki and Helsinki University Hospital, Helsinki, Finland
7Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Tampere University Hospital and Faculty of Medicine and Health Technology, Tampere University, Tampere, Finland
8Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Helsinki, Finland
9Hyvinkää Hospital, Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District, Helsinki, Finland
10Children’s Hospital, University of Helsinki and Helsinki University Hospital, Helsinki, Finland
11PEDEGO Research Unit, MRC Oulu, Oulu University Hospital, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
12Department of Clinical and Molecular Medicine, Norwegian University for Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.5 MB)
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Language: English
Published: John Wiley & Sons, 2023
Publish Date: 2023-05-08


Background: The role of positive maternal mental health during pregnancy in child mental health remains largely unknown. We investigated whether positive maternal mental health during pregnancy is associated with lower hazards of mental and behavioral disorders in children and mitigates the adverse effects of negative maternal mental health.

Methods: Among 3,378 mother–child dyads of the Prediction and Prevention of Preeclampsia and Intrauterine Growth Restriction study, mothers reported their positive mental health biweekly throughout pregnancy with the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule, the Spielberger State Anxiety Inventory Curiosity scale, and a visual analogue scale for social support, and negative mental health with the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale. We extracted data on their mental and behavioral disorder diagnoses from a nationwide medical register. This register provided data on their children’s mental and behavioral disorder diagnoses as well, from birth until 8.4−12.8 (Median = 10.2, Interquartile Range 9.7−10.8) years of age.

Results: A positive maternal mental health composite score during pregnancy was associated with a lower hazard of any mental and behavioral disorder among all children [Hazard Ratio (HR) = 0.79, 95% Confidence Interval (CI) 0.71 − 0.87] and among children of mothers experiencing clinically relevant depressive symptoms during pregnancy [HR = 0.80, 95%CI 0.64 − 1.00] and/or mental and behavioral disorders before or during pregnancy [HR = 0.69, 95%CI 0.55−0.86]. These associations were independent of covariates.

Conclusions: Children whose mothers had more positive mental health during pregnancy were less likely to develop mental and behavioral disorders. Protective effects were seen also among children of mothers facing mental health adversities before or during pregnancy.

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Series: Journal of child psychology and psychiatry
ISSN: 0021-9630
ISSN-E: 1469-7610
ISSN-L: 0021-9630
Volume: 64
Issue: 5
Pages: 807 - 816
DOI: 10.1111/jcpp.13625
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 3124 Neurology and psychiatry
3123 Gynaecology and paediatrics
Funding: This work was supported by the Academy of Finland (M.L-P., grant number 330206; K.R., E.K., K.H.), EVO (special state subsidy for research; K.R.), University of Helsinki Funds, Doctoral School of Psychology, Learning and Communication (A.L.), Signe and Ane Gyllenberg Foundation, Orion Research Foundation, Emil Aaltonen Foundation, Finnish Medical Foundation, Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation, Novo Nordisk Foundation, Päivikki and Sakari Sohlberg Foundation, Sigrid Juselius Foundation (E.K.), Yrjö Jahnsson Foundation (K.R.), and Sir Jules Thorn Charitable Trust (R.M.R.). The authors have declared that they have no competing or potential conflicts of interest.
Copyright information: © 2022 The Authors. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.