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Prenatal Attachment Affects a Child’s Personality

A low sense of attachment between an expectant mother and her unborn child could be associated with some infant developmental delays, according to a study of more than 700 mother–child relationships. “Lowered prenatal attachment was associated with suboptimal outcomes such as difficult infant temperament and uncontrolled crying,” said Grace Branjerdporn of The University of Queensland.

“People may think a bond between a mother and child begins when the mother cradles their newborn in their arms, but it begins well before they have met face-to-face,” Branjerdporn said. “Research has shown prenatal attachment has an effect on a baby’s personality, but we are still studying if it has a bearing on a baby’s ability to master skills like walking, talking and problem-solving.

“Early findings from our study suggest that mothers with a stronger bond to their unborn babies were more likely to have babies that were proficient in a range of skills. The research provides the foundation for looking more closely at assessing and improving maternal–foetal attachment and giving kids a head-start before they are born.”

It is hoped that the study’s findings, which were published in the Maternal and Child Health Journal as part of Branjerdporn’s PhD, will inform future interventions to support prenatal attachment and promote infant development.

The next stage of Branjerdporn’s research will be uncovering new avenues for mothers to develop stronger bonds with their unborn babies. This will focus on women who have experienced perinatal loss, such as through miscarriage.

“By supporting women in this critical time of life, we can unleash the potential of the next generation,” Branjerdporn said.