The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) study, long-term research on more than 3,000 children, revealed that maternal anxiety, both during pregnancy and baby’s early life, could trigger hyperactivity in children, in their adolescence.
Noteworthy, the study only links maternal anxiety with hyperactivity in teenagers, but not with other ADHD symptoms. The results of the research were available at the ECNP Congress in Copenhagen, in Denmark.
The scientists divided the mothers in the study by their level of anxiety, as the moms reported their anxious behavior. More specifically, the team split the mothers into three groups – low anxiety, medium anxiety, and high anxiety.
Then, the researchers tested the children. They noticed that young kids did not present any differences. However, teenagers showed increased hyperactivity, without other ADHD symptoms, such as attention deficit. Also, the hyperactivity levels in teens depended on the anxiety levels of the mothers.
Maternal Anxiety Might Trigger Hyperactivity In Teenagers
About 11 percent of the children born to mothers with medium anxiety and 11 percent of those with mothers with high anxiety showed increased levels of hyperactivity. On the other hand, only 5 percent of those teenagers with mothers with low maternal anxiety presented hyperactivity.
“This is the first time that a study has shown that anxiety is linked to a child’s hyperactivity in later life, but that inattention is not linked,” said Blanca Bolea, a researcher at the University of Toronto and the leading author of the study.
As it seems, the reason why is that happening is that children respond to their mothers’ anxiety. Also, in maternal anxiety during pregnancy, stress hormones transmit from mothers to their unborn babies, and that might trigger some effects later in the kids’ lives.
“One interpretation is that some symptoms of ADHD are associated with the mother’s anxiety, but not all of them. More broadly, it shows that the stresses a mother experiences can show up in her child nearly a generation later; it is worth noting that all the mothers reported an increase in anxiety during pregnancy,” concluded Blanca Bolea.