Maternal mindfulness during pregnancy and infant socio-emotional development and temperament: The mediating role of maternal anxiety

M. I. van den Heuvel, M. A. Johannes, J. Henrichs, B. R. H. Van den Bergh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Accumulating evidence shows that maternal anxiety during pregnancy adversely affects child outcomes. The positive effects of maternal psychosocial factors during pregnancy on child outcomes are not yet studied. This prospective study addresses the association between maternal mindfulness during pregnancy and socio-emotional development and temperament in 10 months-old infants. We also investigated whether this association was mediated by maternal anxiety.
Mothers (N = 90) provided information about mindfulness and anxiety at the beginning of the second trimester of pregnancy. Infant socio-emotional development (Ages and Stages Questionnaire: Social Emotional; ASQ:SE) and temperament (Infant Behaviour Questionnaire—Revised; IBQ-R) were assessed at age 10 months.
Higher maternal mindfulness during pregnancy was associated with less infant self-regulation problems and less infant negative affectivity. Mediation analysis showed that maternal anxiety mediated the association between infant self-regulation problems and maternal mindfulness.
These results suggest that maternal mindfulness during pregnancy may have positive effects on infant development. This association may be mediated by reduced anxiety symptoms in pregnant women who score high on mindfulness. Additional replication studies are needed using objective measures of infant behavioural/emotional outcomes and mindfulness of the mother during child development.
Keywords: Foetal programming, Maternal mindfulness, Maternal anxiety, Self-regulation, Temperament
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-108
JournalEarly Human Development
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Foetal programming
  • Maternal mindfulness
  • Maternal anxiety
  • Self-regulation
  • Temperament

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