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Link between mothers with troubled upbringing and their children's developmental issues

Mothers who had a troubled childhood are more likely to have children with emotional and behavioural difficulties, according to a study.

Mothers who had a troubled childhood are more likely to have children with emotional and behavioural difficulties, according to a study.

mum
A link was found between mothers who had a traumatic upbringing and children
developing emotional and behavioural problems. Picture: iStock

Mothers who had a difficult or traumatic upbringing are more likely to have children with emotional and behavioural difficulties, according to a new study.

Researchers worked with the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children to collect data from more than 9,000 mothers and their children, looking at each mother’s history of cruel or violent treatment during childhood, as well as their child’s experience of emotional and behavioural difficulties across childhood and adolescence.

Significant link

The study found a significant link between the two, with almost half (49%) of children whose mothers had been mistreated as children developing emotional and behavioural difficulties such as excessive worrying or anger at 10, 11 and 13 years of age.

Mothers with troubled childhoods were also significantly more likely to have a lower level of education, have a psychiatric history, to drink and smoke more in pregnancy and to have lower social support.


Plant, D et al (2017) Association between maternal childhood trauma and offspring childhood psychopathology: mediation analysis from the ALSPAC cohort. The British Journal of Psychiatry. doi:10.1192/bjp.bp.117.198721

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