Summary: Maternal inflammation risk factors may be associated with dysregulation in children, encompassing attention, anxiety, depression, and aggression. Researchers observed that children born to mothers with prenatal infections, or who were overweight, less educated, or smoked during pregnancy, had a higher likelihood of dysregulation.
The study utilized the Child Behavior Checklist to assess behavior in 4,595 children and adolescents across the U.S. This research suggests that addressing maternal health factors could improve behavioral outcomes in children.
Approximately 35% of children with dysregulation were born to mothers who experienced prenatal infections, compared to 28% without dysregulation.
Maternal factors like overweight pre-pregnancy, lower education levels, and smoking during pregnancy were linked to higher instances of child dysregulation.
The study involved 4,595 children and adolescents aged 6-18 years from 18 research sites in the U.S.
Maternal inflammation risk factors may be associated with dysregulation in children, according to a study funded by the Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) Program at the National Institutes of Health. “Dysregulation” in this context refers to children’s attention, anxiety and depression, and aggression being measurably different from what is typically expected at their age.
While inflammation is a normal bodily response to injury or infection, ECHO investigators wanted to learn whether factors linked to inflammation during pregnancy might be associated with dysregulation in children.
More youth with dysregulation (35%) were born to mothers with prenatal infections compared with 28% of youth without dysregulation.
Other maternal factors studied, including being overweight before pregnancy, attaining less education, and smoking during pregnancy, were associated with higher likelihoods of childhood dysregulation.
Children and adolescents who had a parent or sibling with a mental health disorder were also more likely to experience dysregulation.
“Addressing factors and treating conditions associated with behavior challenges may help improve outcomes for these children,” said Jean Frazier, MD, of the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School and a leader of the study.
Researchers used the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) to measure aggressive behavior, anxiety/depression, and attention problems in children. Approximately 13.4 % of children and adolescents in the study met the criteria for the CBCL Dysregulation Profile.
This study included 4,595 participants (ages 6-18 years) from 18 ECHO research sites across the United States.
About this neurodevelopment research news
Author: Josee Meehan Source: NIH Contact: Josee Meehan – NIH Image: The image is credited to Neuroscience News
Perinatal Factors and Emotional, Cognitive, and Behavioral Dysregulation in Childhood and Adolescence
This cohort study assessed perinatal factors known to be related to maternal and neonatal inflammation and hypothesized that several would be associated with emotional, cognitive, and behavioral dysregulation in youth.
The Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) is a research consortium of 69 pediatric longitudinal cohorts. A subset of 18 cohorts that had both Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) data on children (6-18 years) and information on perinatal exposures including maternal prenatal infections was used. Children were classified as having the CBCL–Dysregulation Profile (CBCL-DP) if the sum of their T scores for 3 CBCL subscales (attention, anxious/depressed, and aggression) was ≥180. Primary exposures were perinatal factors associated with maternal and/or neonatal inflammation, and associations between these and outcome were assessed.
Approximately 13.4% of 4,595 youth met criteria for CBCL-DP. Boys were affected more than girls (15.1% vs 11.5%). More youth with CBCL-DP (35%) were born to mothers with prenatal infections compared with 28% of youth without CBCL-DP. Adjusted odds ratios indicated the following were significantly associated with dysregulation: having a first-degree relative with a psychiatric disorder; being born to a mother with lower educational attainment, who was obese, had any prenatal infection, and/or who smoked tobacco during pregnancy.
In this large study, a few modifiable maternal risk factors with established roles in inflammation (maternal lower education, obesity, prenatal infections, and smoking) were strongly associated with CBCL-DP and could be targets for interventions to improve behavioral outcomes of offspring.
Diversity & Inclusion Statement
We worked to ensure race, ethnic, and/or other types of diversity in the recruitment of human participants. One or more of the authors of this paper self-identifies as a member of one or more historically underrepresented sexual and/or gender groups in science. We actively worked to promote sex and gender balance in our author group. The author list of this paper includes contributors from the location and/or community where the research was conducted who participated in the data collection, design, analysis, and/or interpretation of the work.