Online Program

A primed pump: The accumulation of maternal stressful life events affects toddler self-regulation at 24 months

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Kara Mandell, MA, Department of Population Health, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI
Whitney P. Witt, PhD, MPH, Department of Population Health Sciences, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI
BACKGROUND: It is unknown how the 9/11 attacks affected toddler self-regulation in the context of preconception stressful life events (PSLEs). This study examined: 1) if and to what extent women's PSLEs moderated the effect of in utero exposure of 9/11 on toddler self-regulation; and, 2) if these relationships were stronger closer to the epicenter of the attacks.

METHODS: Data are from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study – Birth Cohort, a nationally-representative cohort of women who gave birth to a live baby in 2001. Toddler self-regulation was assessed using the Bayley Behavior Rating Scale. To determine if PSLEs moderated the effect of 9/11 on child self-regulation at 24 months, we used multivariate linear regression, controlling for covariates. We restricted this analysis to examine these relationships in the Northeast.

FINDINGS: We found no effect of 9/11 on toddler self-regulation; further PSLEs did not moderate the effect of 9/11 on self-regulation. However, in the Northeast, toddlers who were exposed in utero to 9/11 and whose mothers who were exposed to PSLEs resulted in decreased toddler self-regulation (â= -0.17, 95% CI: -0.22 - -0.13).

CONCLUSIONS: Maternal exposure to PSLEs increased children's vulnerability to in utero exposure to 9/11 in the Northeast region of the U.S. Events such as 9/11 represent critical periods in which interventions for vulnerable women and children living near the epicenter are essential in preventing deleterious intergenerational outcomes. Poor self-regulation is associated with lower educational attainment, decreased earnings and poor coping skills, leaving children with fewer resources to draw upon.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Describe the effects of 9/11 on toddler self-regulation across the United States and in the Northeast. Explain how maternal exposure to the accumulation of stressful life events prior to birth impacts toddler self-regulation. Discuss the theoretical and policy implications of our findings.

Keyword(s): Stress, Maternal and Child Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I conceived the research question, conducted the analyses presented in this abstract, and wrote the abstract. My research interests include the intergenerational transmission of health and poverty.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.