Junk sociology: Babies born to stressed mothers more likely to be bullied at school

Posted By News On November 14, 2012 - 3:31pm

Children whose mothers were overly stressed during pregnancy have been correlated to being victims of bullying at school by a new paper from University of Warwick psychologists showing that stress and mental health problems in pregnant women may affect the developing baby and directly increases the risk of the child being victimized in later life.

The study was published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and is based on 8,829 children from the Avon Longtitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC).

Professor Dieter Wolke, Professor of Developmental Psychology at University of Warwick and Warwick Medical School headed up the study and said, "This is the first study to investigate stress in pregnancy and a child's vulnerability to being bullied. When we are exposed to stress, large quantities of neurohormones are released into the blood stream and in a pregnant woman this can change the developing foetus' own stress response system.

"Changes in the stress response system can affect behaviour and how children react emotionally to stress such as being picked on by a bully. Children who more easily show a stress reaction such as crying, running away, anxiety are then selected by bullies to home in to."

The research team identified the main prenatal stress factors as severe family problems, such as financial difficulty or alcohol/drug abuse, and maternal mental health.

Professor Wolke added: "The whole thing becomes a vicious cycle, a child with an altered stress response system is more likely to be bullied, which affects their stress response even further and increases the likelihood of them developing mental health problems in later life."

Though the sample size is impressive, I am amazed that such an obtuse conclusion could be made to link stress in pregnancy to bullying. What about social and developmental factors in the intervening years between birth and exposure to bullying.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <img> <strong> <object> <cite><p><br><i><b><center><ul><li><div><html5:figure><html5:figcaption>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options

CAPTCHA
Sorry, we know you're not a spambot, but they're out there