Published Online: May 16, 2006
Published in Print: May 17, 2006, as Study: Mothers’ Health Affects Behavior of Young

Early Years

Study: Mothers’ Health Affects Behavior of Young

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Behavior problems in 3-year-olds, such as aggression and hyperactivity, may be related to mental health, substance abuse, and other difficulties their mothers experienced within a year of giving birth, according to a study in the May issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Working with colleagues, Dr. Robert C. Whitaker, a senior fellow at Mathematica Policy Research Inc., in Princeton, N.J., followed more than 2,700 children born between 1998 and 2000 in 18 large cities for three years.

He found that the more areas in which the mothers reported having problems—such as drinking, smoking, anxiety, depression, or exposure to domestic abuse—the more likely their young children were to have behavior problems.

“Our study suggests that, by 3 years of age, there is already evidence of the effect of adverse childhood experiences, occurring in this study in the form of parental mental-health problems, substance use, and domestic violence,” the authors conclude.

Vol. 25, Issue 37, Page 8

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