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The children of preterm survivors: shyness, parenting, and parental stress

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 October 2019

Ryan J. Van Lieshout
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, OntarioCanada
Lindsay Favotto
Affiliation:
Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Mark Ferro
Affiliation:
School of Public Health and Healthy Systems, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
Alison Niccols
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, OntarioCanada
Saroj Saigal
Affiliation:
Department of Pediatrics, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Katherine M. Morrison
Affiliation:
Department of Pediatrics, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Louis A. Schmidt
Affiliation:
Department of Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour, McMaster University, Ontario, Canada
Corresponding
E-mail address:

Abstract

Extremely low birth weight (ELBW) survivors have higher rates of shyness, a risk factor for poorer outcomes across the life span. Due to advances in fetal and neonatal medicine, the first generation of ELBW survivors have survived to adulthood and become parents. However, no studies have investigated the transmission of their stress vulnerability to their offspring. We explored this phenomenon using a population-based cohort of ELBW survivors and normal birth weight (NBW) controls. Using data from three generations, we examined whether the shyness and parenting stress of ELBW and NBW participants (Generation 2) mediated the relation between the parenting style of their parents (Generation 1) and shyness in their offspring (Generation 3), and the extent to which exposure to perinatal adversity (Generation 2) moderated this mediating effect. We found that among ELBW survivors, parenting stress (in Generation 2) mediated the relation between overprotective parenting style in Generation 1 (grandparents) and child shyness in Generation 3. These findings suggest that perinatal adversity and stress may be transmitted to the next generation in humans, as reflected in their perceptions of their children as shy and socially anxious, a personality phenotype that may subsequently place their children at risk of later mental and physical health problems.

Type
Original Article
Copyright
© Cambridge University Press and the International Society for Developmental Origins of Health and Disease 2019

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