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Cumulative Effects of Prenatal and Concurrent Maternal Distress on Psychiatric Disorders in Adolescent Offspring

Author(s):

Neda Mortaji*, Calan Savoy, Khrista Boylan, Bahar Amani and Ryan J Van Lieshout  

Abstract:


Background: Mental disorders affect 20% of children and adolescents globally and are among the most chronic and costly problems affecting youth. Offspring exposure to maternal disorders (depression, anxiety, and/or stress) prenatally as well as in adolescence increases the risk of psychopathology in adolescence.

Objective: Exposure to maternal distress in pregnancy, as well as in adolescence, has independently been linked to psychopathology in youth. However, our understanding of the cumulative effects of exposure to maternal distress over time remains incomplete.

Methods: 1964 participants enrolled in the 2014 Ontario Child Health Study (OCHS) aged 12-17 years completed the Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview for Children and Adolescents (MINI-KID). Maternal prenatal distress was defined as mother-reported depression and/or anxiety during pregnancy requiring treatment. Maternal concurrent distress was self-reported when offspring were 12-17 years of age using the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K6). We examined associations between increasing levels of exposure to maternal distress (no exposure, prenatal exposure only, concurrent exposure only, both prenatal and concurrent exposure) and the risk of psychiatric disorder in 12-17-year-olds.

Results: The odds of major depressive disorder (OR=1.29, 95% CI: 1.01- 1.67) and ADHD (OR=1.30, 95% CI: 1.02-1.65) increased with increasing exposure to maternal distress. Associations between increasing levels of maternal distress and several psychiatric disorders were amplified in males.

Conclusions: The accumulation of exposure to maternal distress over time predicts offspring psychopathology in adolescence and emphasizes the significance of the early detection of maternal distress and ongoing monitoring and intervention to reduce the burden of mental disorders in offspring.

Keywords:

Maternal distress, pregnancy, adolescence, ADHD, depression, mental health

Affiliation:

Neuroscience Graduate Program, McMaster University, Hamilton Ontario, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences, McMaster University, Hamilton Ontario , Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences, McMaster University, Hamilton Ontario , Neuroscience Graduate Program, McMaster University, Hamilton Ontario, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences, McMaster University, Hamilton Ontario



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