Pregnancy Anxiety in Expectant Mothers Predicts Offspring Negative Affect: The Moderating Role of Acculturation

Publication Date


Document Type


Organizational Units

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, Psychology


Pregnancy anxiety, Prenatal anxiety, Latina mothers, Child negative affect, Ethnicity, Acculturation



Pregnancy anxiety predicts adverse developmental outcomes in offspring from infancy through late childhood, but studies have not examined associations with outcomes in early childhood, nor clarified ethnic or cultural variations in these processes.


(1) To examine differences in pregnancy anxiety and related concerns between non-Hispanic White women, Latina women who prefer to speak in English, and Latinas who prefer Spanish; (2) To test prospective associations between pregnancy anxiety and child negative affect and moderation by ethnicity and language preference, used as a proxy for acculturation.

Study design and methods

This longitudinal study included 95 women (40 Non-Hispanic Whites, 31 Spanish-preference Latinas, and 24 English-preference Latinas). Language preference was provided at study entry. Pregnancy anxiety was assessed in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy with two standardized measures. Mothers reported child negative affect at age 4.


Spanish-preference Latinas had significantly more pregnancy-related anxiety about their health and safety in childbirth and concerning the medical system compared to English-preference Latinas and non-Hispanic White women. Adjusting for covariates, pregnancy anxiety in the second trimester, though not the third trimester, predicted significantly higher child negative affect in the full sample. A significant moderation effect indicated that the association was strongest among the lower acculturated Latinas, i.e., those who preferred Spanish.


These results document higher risk for offspring associated with pregnancy anxiety in the second trimester especially among less acculturated Latina women, and suggest the need for culturally-sensitive screening tools and interventions to improve outcomes for Latina mothers and their children.

Publication Statement

Copyright held by author or publisher. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.