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Effects of maternal mental health on prenatal movement profiles in twins and singletons

Reissland, N. and Einbeck, J. and Wood, R. and Lane, A. (2021) 'Effects of maternal mental health on prenatal movement profiles in twins and singletons.', Acta paediatrica., 110 (9). pp. 2553-2558.


Aim: Prenatal experiences, including maternal stress, depression and anxiety, form crucial building blocks affecting the maturation of the fetal central nervous system. Previous research has examined fetal movements without considering effects of maternal mental health factors critical for healthy fetal development. The aim of this research is to assess the effects of maternal mental health factors on fetal twin compared with singleton movement profiles. Method: We coded fetal touch and head movements in 56 ultrasound scans, from a prospective opportunity sample of 30 mothers with a healthy pregnancy (mean gestational age 27.8 weeks for singleton and 27.2 for twins). At the ultrasound scan appointment, participants completed questionnaires assessing their stress, depression and anxiety. Results: Maternal depression increased fetal self-touch significantly. In fetal twins maternal stress significantly decreased and maternal depression significantly increased other twin touch. Maternal mental health factors affected the head movements of twins significantly more than singletons, with maternal depression decreasing head movement frequency for twins significantly. Conclusion: These results indicate that maternal mental health might have an impact on types of body schemata formed in utero, in twin compared with singleton pregnancies. Future research needs to examine whether these prenatal effects affect postnatal differences in body awareness.

Item Type:Article
Full text:Publisher-imposed embargo
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Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives 4.0.
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Publisher statement:© 2021 The Authors. Acta Paediatrica published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Foundation Acta Paediatrica. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.
Date accepted:28 April 2021
Date deposited:04 May 2021
Date of first online publication:08 June 2021
Date first made open access:05 August 2021

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