Pregnancy complications associated with childhood anxiety disorders

Dina R. Hirshfeld-Becker, Joseph Biederman, Stephen V. Faraone, Joanna A. Robin, Deborah Friedman, Jessica M. Rosenthal, Jerrold F. Rosenbaum

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42 Scopus citations


To determine whether perinatal complications predict childhood anxiety disorders independently of parental psychopathology, we systematically assessed pregnancy and delivery complications and psychopathology in a sample of children (mean age = 6.8 years) at high risk for anxiety disorders whose parents bad panic disorder with (n = 138) or without (n = 26) major depression, and in contrast groups of offspring of parents with major depression alone (n = 47), or no mood or anxiety disorders (n = 95; total N = 306). Psychopathology in the children was assessed by structured diagnostic interviews (K-SADS), and pregnancy and delivery complications were assessed using the developmental history module of the DICA-P. Number of pregnancy complications predicted multiple childhood anxiety disorders independently of parental diagnosis (odds ratio = 1.6 [1.4-2.0]). This effect was accounted for by heavy bleeding requiring bed-rest, hypertension, illness requiring medical attention, and serious family problems. Associations remained significant when lifetime child mood and disruptive behavior, disorders were covaried. Results suggest that prenatal stressors may increase a child's risk for anxiety disorders beyond the risk conferred by parental psychopathology alone.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)152-162
Number of pages11
JournalDepression and Anxiety
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Anxiety disorders
  • Child psychiatry
  • Prenatal influences
  • Psychopathology
  • Risk factors


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