Background: Psychosocial stress and psychopathology frequently co-occur, with patterns differing by race and ethnicity. We used statistical mixtures methodology to examine associations between prenatal stress and child temperament in N = 382 racially and ethnically diverse maternal-child dyads to disentangle associations among maternal stressful life events, maternal psychological functioning in pregnancy, childhood neurobehavior, and maternal race and ethnicity. Methods: This study utilized data from a longitudinal pregnancy cohort, PRogramming of Intergenerational Stress Mechanisms (PRISM). Mothers completed the Lifetime Stressor Checklist-Revised, Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, and Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Scale during pregnancy. When their children were 3–5 years of age, they completed the Children's Behavior Questionnaire, which yields three temperament dimensions: Negative Affectivity (NA), Effortful Control (EC), and Surgency (S). We used weighted quantile sum regression to derive a weighted maternal stress index encompassing lifetime stress and depression and anxiety symptoms and examined associations between the resulting stress index and child temperament. Differential contributions of individual stress domains by race and ethnicity also were examined. Results: Mothers self-identified as Black/Black Hispanic (46.1 %), non-Black Hispanic (31.9 %), or non-Hispanic White (22 %). A higher maternal stress index was significantly associated with increased child NA (β = 0.72 95 % CI = 0.35, 1.10). Lifetime stress was the strongest contributor among Hispanic (36.7 %) and White (17.8 %) mothers, whereas depressive symptoms in pregnancy was the strongest contributor among Black (16.7 %) mothers. Conclusion: Prenatal stress was most strongly associated with negative affectivity in early childhood. Consideration of multiple stress measures as a mixture accounted for differential contributions of individual stress domains by maternal race and ethnicity. These findings may help elucidate the etiology of racial/ethnic disparities in childhood neurobehavior.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107355
JournalNeurotoxicology and Teratology
StatePublished - 1 May 2024


  • Behavior
  • Prenatal maternal stress
  • Temperament


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