Stressful events and psychological difficulties: testing alternative candidates for sensitivity.

TitleStressful events and psychological difficulties: testing alternative candidates for sensitivity.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsLaceulle OM, O'Donnell K, Glover V, O'Connor TG, Ormel J, van Aken MAG, Nederhof E
JournalEur Child Adolesc Psychiatry
Volume23
Issue2
Pagination103-13
Date Published2014 Feb
ISSN1435-165X
KeywordsAdolescent, Affective Symptoms, Anxiety Disorders, Child, Child Development, Child of Impaired Parents, Child, Preschool, Disease Susceptibility, Female, Humans, Life Change Events, Male, Mothers, Pregnancy, Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects, Prospective Studies, Risk Factors, Sex Factors, Social Environment, Socioeconomic Factors, Stress, Psychological, Surveys and Questionnaires, Time Factors
Abstract

The current study investigated the longitudinal, reciprocal associations between stressful events and psychological difficulties from early childhood to mid-adolescence. Child age, sex, prenatal maternal anxiety, and difficult temperament were tested as sources of sensitivity, that is, factors that may make children more sensitive to stressful life events. Analyses were based on data from 10,417 children from a prospective, longitudinal study of child development. At ages 4, 7, 9, 11, and 16 years, stressful events and psychological difficulties were measured. Prenatal anxiety was measured at 32 weeks of gestation and difficult temperament was measured at 6 months. Children exposed to stressful events showed significantly increased psychological difficulties at ages 7 and 11 years; there was consistent evidence of a reciprocal pattern: psychological difficulties predicted stressful events at each stage. Analyses also indicated that the associations between stressful events and psychological difficulties were stronger in girls than in boys. We found no evidence for the hypothesis that prenatal anxiety or difficult temperament increased stress sensitivity, that is, moderated the link between life events and psychological difficulties. The findings extend prior work on stress exposure and psychological difficulties and highlight the need for additional research to investigate sources of sensitivity and the mechanisms that might underlie differences in sensitivity to stressful events.

DOI10.1007/s00787-013-0436-4
Alternate JournalEur Child Adolesc Psychiatry
PubMed ID23756816
Grant List092731 / / Wellcome Trust / United Kingdom
G9815508 / / Medical Research Council / United Kingdom
MC_PC_15018 / / Medical Research Council / United Kingdom
R01 MH073842 / MH / NIMH NIH HHS / United States

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