Maternal inflammation during pregnancy may be associated with anxiety and depression, and aggression in children, according to a study.

While inflammation is a normal bodily response to injury or infection, the team wanted to learn whether factors linked to inflammation during pregnancy might be associated with dysregulation in children.

"Dysregulation" in this context refers to children's attention, anxiety and depression, and aggression being measurably different from what is typically expected at their age.

More youth with dysregulation (35 per cent) were born to mothers with prenatal infections compared with 28 per cent of youth without dysregulation.

Other maternal factors studied, including being overweight before pregnancy, attaining less education, and smoking during pregnancy, were associated with higher likelihoods of childhood dysregulation.

Children and adolescents who had a parent or sibling with a mental health disorder were also more likely to experience dysregulation.

Depressed, depression, anxiety
Depression, Anxiety             Pixabay

"Addressing factors and treating conditions associated with behaviour challenges may help improve outcomes for these children," said Jean Frazier, of the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School.

The study also found that boys were more often affected than girls.

Researchers used the Child Behaviour Checklist (CBCL) to measure aggressive behaviour, anxiety/depression, and attention problems in children. Approximately 13.4 per cent of children and adolescents in the study met the criteria for the CBCL Dysregulation Profile.

This study included 4,595 participants (ages 6-18 years) across the US.

(With inputs from IANS)