Conflict of interest statement: No conflicts declared.
Prenatal family adversity and maternal mental health and vulnerability to peer victimisation at school
Article first published online: 2 NOV 2012
© 2012 The Authors. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry © 2012 Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health.
Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Volume 54, Issue 6, pages 644–652, June 2013
How to Cite
Lereya, S. T. and Wolke, D. (2013), Prenatal family adversity and maternal mental health and vulnerability to peer victimisation at school. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 54: 644–652. doi: 10.1111/jcpp.12012
- Issue published online: 22 MAY 2013
- Article first published online: 2 NOV 2012
- Accepted for publication: 4 September 2012
Background: Prenatal stress has been shown to predict persistent behavioural abnormalities in offspring. Unknown is whether prenatal stress makes children more vulnerable to peer victimisation.
Methods: The current study is based on the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, a prospective community-based study. Family adversity, maternal anxiety and depression were assessed at repeated intervals in pregnancy and the postnatal period. Parenting, partner conflict and temperament were measured at preschool age. Peer victimisation was assessed using multiple informants (child, parent, teacher) at primary school age (between ages 7 and 10).
Results: Prenatal severe family adversity and maternal mental health directly increased the risk of victimisation at school even when controlled for postnatal family adversity and maternal mental health, parenting, partner conflict and temperament. Effects were found to be independent of sources of information of peer victimisation. Partner conflict and maladaptive parenting also independently increased the risk of peer victimisation.
Conclusions: Experiences in pregnancy may affect the developing foetus and increase vulnerability to be victimised by peers. Conflict between parents and their parenting further increase the risk of being victimised by peers at school.