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01-05-2011 | Uitgave 4/2011 Open Access

Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 4/2011

The Role of Pre- and Postnatal Timing of Family Risk Factors on Child Behavior at 36 months

Research on Child and Adolescent Psychopathology > Uitgave 4/2011
Mona Bekkhus, Michael Rutter, Edward D. Barker, Anne I. H. Borge


Children growing up in disharmonious families with anxious/depressed mothers are at risk for emotional and behavioral difficulties, however whether these associations reflect postnatal environment, prenatal exposure, or an overall liability is still unclear. This study used prospectively collected data from 24,259 participants of the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study (MoBa). Mothers reported on anxiety/depression and family disharmony twice in pregnancy and twice post pregnancy, as well as on their child’s physical aggression and crying behavior at age 36 months. First, results from an autoregressive cross-lagged model showed a substantial stability in both maternal anxiety/depression and family disharmony from pregnancy to 18 months postnatal, but there was no indication that family disharmony led to maternal anxiety/depression, or the other way around. Second, structural equation models further suggests that the main risk derived from an overall liability, that is, a lasting effect of family risks that spanned the two time periods.

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