Some infants are more fearful than others, and ten percent of these differences are explained by maternal stress, according to a study at two hospitals in London. Prenatal stress of more than a hundred mothers has been assessed, and the cognitive development and the fearfulness of the children has been measured between fourteen and nineteen months of age.
It has been calculated that prenatal stress accounts for 17 percent of the differences in cognitive development and for 10 percent of the differences in fearfulness.
The benefit of a stable relationship
A stable relationship between mother and father, yet before birth, is important for the mental development and well-being of the child. No less than 75 percent of prenatal stress is caused by emotional strain in the partnership, according to the London study.
The mechanisms by which prenatal stress affects the intelligence and the courage of a child are not yet known. What can be said is only that there are two different mechanisms at work and that both of these are not linked. That is, prenatal stress will affect the cognitive development in some infants and fearfulness in others. Which point of weakness will be affected is most likely to be programmed in the genes.
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