Infant Developmental Outcomes Post Hurricane Harvey: Prenatal Maternal Stress on Childhood Development at 6 Months Old


Previous research has examined the effect of prenatal stress on child developmental outcomes including motor development and problem solving skills. This study aims to understand how prenatal stress during Hurricane Harvey influences child development from the prenatal stage up until 6 months of age. The study examined the associations between prenatal objective stress (i.e., how much loss, change, or negative events the mother experienced, mother’s subjective stress or posttraumatic stress symptoms, cognitive appraisal of the event, and infant developmental outcomes at 6 months old using the Ages and Stages Questionnaire. The analyses also controlled for timing of the flood exposure, mother socioeconomic status, and other demographic covariates. Our results found that exposure to prenatal stress was not associated with an impact on child developmental outcomes at 6 months old. Results found associations between maternal socioeconomic status and infant problem solving skills and sex differences in motor skills and personal relationship scale. Additionally, negative cognitive appraisal of the event was associated with worse infant problem solving skills. In all, our research adds to the importance of assessing prenatal stress in mothers during pregnancy to understand development risks children may later experience in early childhood. This project was completed with contributions from Guillaume Elgbeili, David Laplante, and Suzanne King from McGill University.