Symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in first-time expectant women: Relations with parenting cognitions and behaviors

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Abstract

The relationship between maternal symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and parenting cognitions and behaviors was studied in 86 first-time expectant women. Women high on ADHD symptoms were less likely to be married, less likely to have obtained at least some university education, and less likely to report that they wanted to get pregnant at the time they became pregnant. As predicted, ADHD symptoms were positively correlated with symptoms of anxiety and depression, and predicted less positive prenatal expectations regarding the infant and the future maternal role and lower maternal self-efficacy. Contrary to predictions, ADHD did not predict any incremental variance in maternal stressful life events or social support. Symptoms of ADHD were negatively correlated with attendance at recommended prenatal checkups, but were unrelated to other behaviors during pregnancy. Findings suggest that even prior to any contact with their infant, women with ADHD symptoms have maladaptive cognitions regarding their expectations of motherhood and parenting abilities. As a result, they may benefit from early interventions that focus on attenuating the potential negative effects that these maladaptive cognitions might have on the mother-infant relationship and later developmental outcomes for their children.

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