Phua, D., Kee, M., Koh, D., Rifkin-Graboi, A., Daniels, M., Chen, H., . . . Meaney, M. (2017). Positive maternal mental health during pregnancy associated with specific forms of adaptive development in early childhood: Evidence from a longitudinal study. Development and Psychopathology, 29(5), 1573-1587. doi:10.1017/S0954579417001249
The quality of prenatal maternal mental health, from psychological stress, depressive symptoms, to anxiety and other non-psychotic mental disorders profoundly affects fetal neurodevelopment. Despite the evidence for the influence of positive mental well-being on health there is, to our knowledge, no research examining the possible effects of positive antenatal mental health on the development of the offspring. Using exploratory bifactor analysis, this prospective study (n = 1066) demonstrated the feasibility of using common psychiatric screening tools to examine the effect of positive maternal mental health. Antenatal mental health was assessed during 26-week pregnancy. The effects on offspring was assessed when the child was 12-, 18- and 24-months-old. Results showed that positive antenatal mental health was uniquely associated with the offspring’s cognitive, language and parentally-rated competences. This study shows that the effects of positive maternal mental health are likely to be specific and different from the lack of mental disorders.
The GUSTO study is funded by the Singapore National Research Foundation under its Translational and Clinical Research (TCR) Flagship Programme and administered by the Singapore Ministry of Health’s National Medical Research Council (NMRC), Singapore- NMRC/TCR/004-NUS/2008; NMRC/TCR/012-NUHS/2014. Additional funding is provided by the Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences, Agency for Science Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore.. We acknowledge additional funding from the Sackler Foundation (MJM).