Edinburgh Research Explorer

Prenatal maternal infections and children’s socioemotional development: Findings from the UK Millennium Cohort Study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Related Edinburgh Organisations

Open Access permissions



  • Download as Adobe PDF

    Final published version, 517 KB, PDF document

    Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution (CC-BY)

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Early online date19 Sep 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Sep 2020


Previous research suggests that prenatal maternal infections may be associated with increased odds of children having a neurodevelopmental disorder. However, little evidence exists on associations with broader child outcomes, especially subclinical symptoms. Participants were the N = 14,021 members of the population-representative UK Millennium Cohort Study. We examined associations between prenatal maternal infections, both maternal-reported and hospital-recorded, and children’s socioemotional development, using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) at age three. Maternal-reported prenatal infections were associated with increased emotional symptoms, after adjusting for several potential confounds and covariates. Hospital-recorded prenatal infections were not associated with children’s socioemotional outcomes, after adjusting for potential confounding and covarying factors. Findings suggest that prenatal maternal infections, particularly those which the mothers remember months later, may be associated with increased emotional problems in early childhood. This emphasises the need for screening for and preventing infections during pregnancy. Further, the occurrence of prenatal infection indicates the potential need for early intervention for children’s emotional difficulties.

    Research areas

  • children, infections, mental health, mothers, pregnancy, socioemotional development

Download statistics

No data available

ID: 166591427