Maternal Anxiety and Infant Temperament Discussion

Maternal Anxiety and Infant Temperament DiscussionIn chapter 4 (p. 123-124), Shaffer discusses heredity and environmental influences on temperament. There have been multiple studies examining the relationship between maternal stress during pregnancy and infant temperament. Animal studies have experimentally examined relations between maternal stress during pregnancy and outcomes in infants. This research indicates that maternal stress may cause delayed motor and cognitive development and problems adapting to stress in infants. Although it is ethically inappropriate to conduct such experimental studies on humans, several studies have found connections between maternal anxiety during pregnancy and infant temperament. For instance, maternal anxiety ratings during the last trimester of pregnancy were related to both maternal and paternal ratings of “difficult” infant temperament when infants were 4-6 months of age (Austin, Hadzi-Pavlovic, Leader, Saint, & Parker, 2005) and maternal anxiety during pregnancy has been linked to less positive affect and lower attention spans in three-month-old infants (Coplan, O’Neil, & Arbeau, 2005). Postnatal ratings of anxiety have also been found to relate to infant activity level.Animal research suggests a causal relationship between maternal stress and infant outcomes. However, human research on this subject matter is correlational. Therefore, there could be other explanations for why mothers experiencing stress during pregnancy have infants with “difficult” temperaments. Contemplate and briefly discuss possible explanations for the findings described in the maternal anxiety and infant temperament discussion. (Hint – You may want to consider heredity and environmental factors).

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