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Open AccessArticle

Toddler Temperament Mediates the Effect of Prenatal Maternal Stress on Childhood Anxiety Symptomatology: The QF2011 Queensland Flood Study

1
Mater Research Institute-University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD 4072, Australia
2
School of Psychology, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD 4072, Australia
3
Sunshine Coast Mind and Neuroscience Thompson Institute, University of Sunshine Coast, Sippy Downs, QLD 4556, Australia
4
School of Nursing, Midwifery, and Social Work, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD 4072, Australia
5
Schizophrenia and Neurodevelopmental Disorders Research, Douglas Mental Health University Institute, Verdun, QC H4H 1R3, Canada
6
Department of Psychiatry, McGill University, Montreal, QC H3A 1A1, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(11), 1998; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16111998
Received: 18 March 2019 / Revised: 30 May 2019 / Accepted: 3 June 2019 / Published: 5 June 2019
It is not known whether alterations to temperamental characteristics associated with prenatal maternal stress (PNMS) exposure account for the development of childhood anxiety symptomatology (internalizing behaviors and anxiety symptoms). The QF2011 Queensland flood study examined whether (1) toddler temperamental characteristics explained the association between PNMS exposure and childhood anxiety symptomatology; and (2) whether effects were dependent upon child sex or the timing of gestational exposure to PNMS. We investigated the effects of various aspects of flood-related stress in pregnancy (objective hardship, cognitive appraisal, subjective distress) on maternal report of 16-month toddler temperament (attentional control, shy-inhibition, negative reactivity), 4-year maternal-reported childhood anxiety symptomatology (internalizing and anxiety symptoms; N = 104), and teacher reports of internalizing behaviors (N = 77). Severity of maternal objective hardship during pregnancy and shy-inhibited behaviors were uniquely associated with 4-year child anxiety symptoms. Mediation analyses found that higher levels of 16-month negative reactivity accounted, in part, for the relationship between increased maternal objective flood-related hardship and greater internalizing behaviors (maternal but not teacher report). Neither child sex nor gestational timing of exposure moderated the hypothesized mediations. Our findings highlight several pathways through which varying aspects of disaster-related PNMS may influence early childhood anxiety symptomatology. View Full-Text
Keywords: prenatal stress; natural disasters; internalizing behaviors; childhood anxiety; toddlerhood; temperament characteristics prenatal stress; natural disasters; internalizing behaviors; childhood anxiety; toddlerhood; temperament characteristics
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MDPI and ACS Style

McLean, M.A.; Cobham, V.E.; Simcock, G.; Kildea, S.; King, S. Toddler Temperament Mediates the Effect of Prenatal Maternal Stress on Childhood Anxiety Symptomatology: The QF2011 Queensland Flood Study. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 1998. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16111998

AMA Style

McLean MA, Cobham VE, Simcock G, Kildea S, King S. Toddler Temperament Mediates the Effect of Prenatal Maternal Stress on Childhood Anxiety Symptomatology: The QF2011 Queensland Flood Study. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2019; 16(11):1998. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16111998

Chicago/Turabian Style

McLean, Mia A.; Cobham, Vanessa E.; Simcock, Gabrielle; Kildea, Sue; King, Suzanne. 2019. "Toddler Temperament Mediates the Effect of Prenatal Maternal Stress on Childhood Anxiety Symptomatology: The QF2011 Queensland Flood Study" Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 16, no. 11: 1998. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16111998

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