Maternal Stress and the Effects of Childhood Development

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Maternal Stress and the Effects on Childhood Development
Lonna Larger
Ohio University

Maternal Stress and the Effects on Childhood Development
In conducting my research on developmental studies, I had the chance to review many academic journals with many different studies. I chose to read, “The Role of Prenatal Maternal Stress in Child Development,” by Janet A.DiPietro in the, Current Directions in Psychological Science journal. The title of the study itself does identify the independent and dependent variable. The independent variable is the effect of stress, and the dependent variable is the child’s development. In reading the introduction, I learned that throughout history people have thought that the emotions and experiences of a pregnant woman impinge on her developing fetus. (DiPietro, 2004) I also learned that there are no direct neural connections between the mother and fetus. (DiPietro, 2004) The journal went on to describe the physiological processes involved in mother to fetus bio-chemical and hormonal functions. The main studies used in determining theoretical explanations throughout history, have been in animal studies. According to DiPietro (2004), “the most compelling evidence between maternal physiological functioning and later development in offspring is found in animal studies.” (p. 1). The hypothesis of this study suggests that maternal stressors are more far-reaching on child behavior than previously suspected. (DiPietro, 2004). The main way that this hypothesis has been studied is by utilizing animal research. In a series of studies done with rhesus monkeys, when the mothers were exposed to loud noises throughout pregnancy, the offspring showed delayed motor development and reduced attention. (DiPietro, 2004) It does seem that most of the studies conducted on animals have reported negative consequences. Although reports of either no effects or beneficial ones make it clear that much is left to be learned about the specific...
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