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The association between maternal depression and anxiety during pregnancy and child attention problems may be partly explained by postnatal symptoms

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Question: Is there evidence of an intrauterine effect of maternal depression or anxiety on child attention problems and might the presence of these symptoms at age three account for any association?

People: Single child born to mothers recruited to the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and their Children (ALSPAC, n=3442) and Generation R studies (n=2280).

Setting: Generation R Study: Rotterdam, the Netherlands; recruitment of pregnant women with delivery date April 2002–January 2006. ALSPAC study: South West England; recruitment of pregnant women with delivery date April 1991–December 1992.

Risk factors: Parental symptoms of depression and anxiety during pregnancy (18–20 weeks) and when the child was aged 3 years. Generation R Study: assessed using the depression and anxiety scales of the Brief Symptom Inventory(BSI), which assesses symptoms in the preceding 7 days. ALSPAC study: assessed using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (depression) and Crown-Crisp Index (anxiety). Both studies considered as covariates of child gender, ethnicity and birth weight, maternal educational level, maternal smoking and alcohol use, and family income.

Outcomes: Child attention …

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  • Sources of funding: The Wellcome Trust.


  • Competing interests None.

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