Maternal psychological distress is common in pregnancy and may influence the risk of adverse outcomes in children. Psychological distress may cause a suboptimal intrauterine environment leading to growth and developmental adaptations of the fetus and child. In this narrative review, we examined the influence of maternal psychological distress during pregnancy on fetal outcomes and child cardiometabolic, respiratory, atopic and neurodevelopmental-related health outcomes. We discussed these findings from an epidemiological and life course perspective and provided recommendations for future studies. The literature in the field of maternal psychological distress and child health outcomes is extensive and shows that exposure to stress during pregnancy is associated with multiple adverse child health outcomes. Because maternal psychological distress is an important and potential modifiable factor during pregnancy, it should be a target for prevention strategies in order to optimize fetal and child health. Future studies should use innovative designs and strategies in order to address the issue of causality.

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Journal Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease
El Marroun, H, & Vehmeijer, F.O.L. (2018). Maternal psychological distress during pregnancy and childhood health outcomes. Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease. doi:10.1017/S2040174418000557