In the present review, we examine the association between maternal prenatal stress or anxiety and children’s early negative reactivity or self-regulation. The review includes 32 studies that focus on pregnancy-related anxiety, state or trait anxiety, perceived stress, and stressful life events in relation to child’s crying, temperament, or behavior during the first 2 years of life. We searched four electronic databases and 32 studies were selected based on the inclusion criteria. Twenty-three studies found an association between maternal prenatal anxiety or stress and a child’s negative reactivity or self-regulation, and typically the effect sizes varied from low to moderate. The association was found regardless of the form of prenatal stress or anxiety and the trimester in which the prenatal stress or anxiety was measured. In conclusion, several forms of prenatal anxiety and stress may increase the risk of emotional and self-regulatory difficulties during the first 2 years of life.
- early behavior
- negative reactivity