Stressors as Predictors of Australian Children's CBCL Scores
at Ages 2-14
Western Australia Pregnancy Cohort Study was designed to test
effects of particular kinds of maternal stress events during
pregnancy on subsequent behavioral problems of the offspring.
Robinson et al. (2011) reported prediction of children's CBCL
scores at ages 2, 5, 8, 10, and 14 years from several kinds
of independent stress events (events beyond the mother's control)
and dependent stress events (events at least partly within
the mother's control) reported at 18 and 34 weeks gestation.
The independent events included deaths of relatives and friends,
nonvoluntary loss of jobs by mothers or partners, and pregnancy
problems. The dependent events included separation, divorce,
residential moves, marital problems, problems with children,
and money problems. After controlling for other risk factors,
Robinson et al. found that children whose mothers experienced
at least three stress events had significantly (p<.001)
higher CBCL Total Problems scores at all ages than children
whose mothers experienced fewer than three stress events.
The number of stress events also predicted significant elevations
of CBCL Internalizing and Externalizing scores. Effects were
similar for independent and dependent events and for reports
at 18 weeks and 34 weeks. Because children's CBCL problem
scores increased with the number of prenatal stress events,
Robinson et al. concluded that "Our results concerning
the relationship between the number of stressful events in
pregnancy and behavioral impact on the child support a linear
dose-response relationship" (p. 514).
Robinson, M., Mattes, E., Oddy, W.H., Pennell, C.E., Van Eekelen,
A., McLean, N.J., Jacoby, P., Li, J., DeKlerk, N.H., Zubrick,
S.R., Stanley, J., & Newnham, J.P. (2011). Prenatal stress
and risk of behavioral morbidity from age 2 to 14 years: The
influence of the number, type, and timing of stressful life
events. Development and Psychopathology, 23, 507-520.