Maternal anxiety from pregnancy to 2 years postpartum: transactional patterns of maternal early adversity and child temperament Journal Articles uri icon

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  • The aims of this study were to examine the anxiety trajectories of women from pregnancy to 2 years postpartum and to assess the influence of their early life experiences and the temperament of the child on these trajectories. We evaluated state anxiety (State-Trait Anxiety Inventory) at pregnancy and 3, 6, 12, 18, and 24 months postpartum and determined its course as a function of self-reported early adverse experiences (Childhood Trauma Questionnaire) and the temperament of the child at 18 months (Early Child Behavior Questionnaire). Based on growth curve modeling, we found that anxiety followed a general U-shape pattern from gestation to 2 years postpartum, which was modified by early life experience of women. Greater early adversity was associated with higher gestational anxiety, followed by a marked decrease once the baby was born, and subsequent increase during the later postpartum period. The temperament of the child also modulated anxiety trajectories. Thus, mothers of children high in negative affectivity and who also experienced greater early adversity had elevated and flat anxiety trajectories, while child extraversion was associated with increasing anxiety courses approaching 2 years postpartum. These results show that maternal anxiety dynamically changes through the postpartum period with a course that is affected by previous and current experiences.


  • Agrati, Daniella
  • Browne, Dillon
  • Jonas, Wibke
  • Meaney, Michael
  • Atkinson, Leslie
  • Steiner, Meir
  • Fleming, Alison S

publication date

  • October 2015