Babies born to stressed mothers more likely to be bullied at school, longitudinal study finds

Babies born to stressed mothers more likely to be bullied at school, longitudinal study finds

(Medical Xpress)—Children whose mothers were overly stressed during pregnancy are more likely to become victims of bullying at school.

New research from the University of Warwick shows stress and mental health problems in pregnant women may affect the developing baby and directly increases the risk of the child being victimised in later life.

The study has been published in the and is based on 8,829 children from the Avon Longtitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC).

Professor Dieter Wolke, Professor of at University of Warwick and Warwick Medical School headed up the study.

He said: "This is the first study to investigate stress in pregnancy and a child's vulnerability to being bullied. When we are exposed to stress, large quantities of neurohormones are released into the blood stream and in a pregnant woman this can change the developing foetus' own system.

"Changes in the stress response system can affect behaviour and how children react emotionally to stress such as being picked on by a bully. Children who more easily show a stress reaction such as crying, running away, anxiety are then selected by bullies to home in to."

The research team identified the main prenatal stress factors as severe family problems, such as financial difficulty or alcohol/drug abuse, and maternal mental health.

Professor Wolke added: "The whole thing becomes a vicious cycle, a child with an altered stress response system is more likely to be bullied, which affects their stress response even further and increases the likelihood of them developing in later life."

More information: Lereya, S., Wolke, D., Prenatal Family Adversity and Maternal Mental Health. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Mother's touch could change effects of prenatal stress

Oct 16, 2012

Scientists at the Universities of Liverpool, Manchester, and Kings College, London, have found that mothers who stroke their baby's body in the first few weeks after birth may change the effects that stress during pregnancy ...

Stressful pregnancies can lead to stressful children

Jul 22, 2011

(Medical Xpress) -- A new study published in Translational Psychiatry suggests that children whose mothers are highly stressed during pregnancy are more likely to be vulnerable to stress as they grow older. ...

Recommended for you

What sign language teaches us about the brain

2 hours ago

The world's leading humanoid robot, ASIMO, has recently learnt sign language. The news of this breakthrough came just as I completed Level 1 of British Sign Language (I dare say it took me longer to master signing ...

Why do men prefer nice women?

2 hours ago

People's emotional reactions and desires in initial romantic encounters determine the fate of a potential relationship. Responsiveness may be one of those initial "sparks" necessary to fuel sexual desire and land a second ...

Study reveals how to be socially successful

2 hours ago

Romantic, personal and professional relationships are fraught with danger, but a University of Queensland researcher has found the secret to interacting successfully with others in such settings.

User comments