Association of prenatal attachment and early childhood emotional, behavioral, and developmental characteristics: A longitudinal study

Cildir D. A., Ozbek A., Topuzoglu A., Orcin E., Janbakhishov C. E.

INFANT MENTAL HEALTH JOURNAL, vol.41, no.4, pp.517-529, 2020 (SSCI) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 41 Issue: 4
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Doi Number: 10.1002/imhj.21822
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, Child Development & Adolescent Studies, CINAHL, Educational research abstracts (ERA), EMBASE, MEDLINE, Psycinfo
  • Page Numbers: pp.517-529
  • Keywords: early childhood behavior, early childhood development, early childhood emotional characteristics, prenatal attachment, MATERNAL-FETAL ATTACHMENT, ANTENATAL ATTACHMENT, DEPRESSIVE SYMPTOMS, INFANT ATTACHMENT, SOCIAL COMPETENCE, ANXIETY, STRESS, PREGNANCY, SECURITY, HEALTH
  • Dokuz Eylül University Affiliated: Yes


This study examines the associations between prenatal attachment and child development, socioemotional behavioral problems, and competence at early childhood. It also inquires whether maternal depression and anxiety at the prenatal period and at early childhood are associated with child outcomes. The study consisted of 83 mothers and their children. Data regarding the prenatal attachment, depression, and anxiety were collected during Weeks 28 to 40 of gestation. When the children were 21 to 31 months old, the Brief Infant and Toddler Social Emotional Assessment (BITSEA) and the Ankara Developmental Screening Inventory (ADSI) were applied to children along with Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and the Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) administered to mothers. Results showed that prenatal attachment scores significantly correlated with BITSEA-Competency subscale scores and ADSI total scores at early childhood, r(83) = 0.246, P = .025, and r(82) = 0.316, P = .004, respectively. Prenatal attachment levels were found to be the predictors of both behavioral and emotional competence and development at early childhood, b = 0.081, t(83) = 2.273, P = .014, and b = 0.281, t(83) = 3.225, P = .002, respectively. In addition, prenatal attachment was shown to be even a stronger predictor of development than was worsening maternal depression at early childhood, b = -0.319, t(83) = 2.140, P = .035. Our results indicate that fostering prenatal attachment may be beneficial for better infant outcomes at early childhood.