Looking ahead: Pre-and perinatal interventions for maternal distress to prevent neurodevelopmental vulnerability

Hilary Brown*, Sheila Krogh-Jespersen, Darius Tandon, Alice Graham, Kristen Mackiewicz Seghete, Lauren Wakschlag

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

4 Scopus citations


Maternal distress is common in the prenatal period, with well-established long-term effects on offspring neurodevelopmental vulnerability to mental health problems beginning early in life. The development and implementation of timely and effective preventive and treatment interventions for maternal distress therefore has considerable public health importance. Indeed, numerous psychological, psychosocial, and pharmacological interventions have been developed to prevent and treat maternal distress. Most intervention studies have focused on maternal mental health and well-being, with secondary examination of impact on infant outcomes. The field is now moving toward more explicit and mechanistic approaches designed to test whether reductions in maternal distress during pregnancy improve neurodevelopmental outcomes, using randomized clinical trial (RCT) designs. We here highlight this work because of its promise to generate a causal evidence base as well as to lay the groundwork for scalable preventive and treatment interventions that can reduce the adverse effects of exposure on offspring psychopathology risk at the population level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPrenatal Stress and Child Development
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages28
ISBN (Electronic)9783030601591
ISBN (Print)9783030601584
StatePublished - Apr 19 2021


  • Cognitive appraisal
  • Coping style
  • Intervention
  • Maternal distress
  • Neurodevelopment
  • Non-pharmacological interventions
  • Prenatal prevention
  • Prenatal stress
  • Psychosocial interventions
  • Randomized controlled trials
  • Resilience
  • Social support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Medicine(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)


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