European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

, Volume 28, Issue 11, pp 1475–1486 | Cite as

Does maternal somatic anxiety in pregnancy predispose children to hyperactivity?

  • Blanca Bolea-Alamañac
  • Simon J. C. DaviesEmail author
  • Jonathan Evans
  • Carol Joinson
  • Rebecca Pearson
  • Petros Skapinakis
  • Alan Emond
Original Contribution


The objective of this study is to explore the association between maternal somatic anxiety in pregnancy and hyperactivity symptoms and ADHD diagnosis in children. Data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children cohort were used to examine the association between somatic anxiety symptoms in pregnancy measured with five items of the Crown-Crisp Experiential Index, ADHD diagnosis in children at 7.5 and 15 years (obtained with the Development and Well-Being Assessment-DAWBA) and hyperactivity at 4 and 16 years (measured with the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire hyperactivity subscale-SDQ). Maternal somatic anxiety was associated with ADHD diagnosis at age 7.5 [crude OR = 1.87 (95% CI = 1.21–2.91)], adjusted model [OR = 1.57 (95% CI = 0.99–2.48)]. There was no evidence of association with ADHD at 15: crude OR = 2.27 (95% CI = 0.90–5.71), adjusted OR = 1.65 (95% CI = 0.63–4.35). An association was found at 4 and 16 with the SDQ hyperactivity subscale: crude OR at 4: 1.70 (95% CI =1.37–2.11), adjusted OR = 1.34 (95% CI = 1.07–1.69); crude OR at 16: 1.95 (95% CI = 1.47–2.58), adjusted OR = 1.62 (95% CI = 1.21–2.17).Thus, there was evidence for an association between maternal somatic anxiety in pregnancy and increased hyperactivity symptoms (SDQ) at 4 and 16. There was no association with ADHD diagnosis.


ADHD Hyperactivity Anxiety Depression Pregnancy ALSPAC 



We are extremely grateful to all the families who took part in this study, the midwives for their help in recruiting them, and the whole ALSPAC team, which includes interviewers, computer and laboratory technicians, clerical workers, research scientists, volunteers, managers, receptionists and nurses. The UK Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust (Grant ref: 102215/2/13/2) and the University of Bristol provide core support for ALSPAC. No external funding was required for this study.


Dr. Carol Joinson is funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Wellcome Trust.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Dr. Bolea has received speaker fees once from Janssen pharmaceuticals. The rest of the authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Blanca Bolea-Alamañac
    • 1
  • Simon J. C. Davies
    • 2
    Email author
  • Jonathan Evans
    • 3
  • Carol Joinson
    • 3
  • Rebecca Pearson
    • 3
  • Petros Skapinakis
    • 4
    • 5
  • Alan Emond
    • 6
  1. 1.General Systems DivisionCentre for Addiction and Mental HealthTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Geriatric Psychiatry DivisionCentre for Addiction and Mental HealthTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Centre for Academic Mental Health, University of BristolBristolUK
  4. 4.Division of PsychiatryUniversity College LondonLondonUK
  5. 5.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Ioannina School of MedicineIoanninaGreece
  6. 6.Centre for Child and Adolescent Health, School of Social and Community MedicineUniversity of BristolBristolUK

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