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Maternal childhood maltreatment and perinatal outcomes: a systematic review

Souch, Alistair J., Jones, Ian R. ORCID:, Shelton, Katherine H. M. ORCID: and Waters, Cerith S. ORCID: 2022. Maternal childhood maltreatment and perinatal outcomes: a systematic review. Journal of Affective Disorders 302 , pp. 139-159. 10.1016/j.jad.2022.01.062

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Background Maternal childhood maltreatment (MCM) is linked to poor perinatal outcomes but the evidence base lacks cohesion. We explore the impact of MCM on four perinatal outcome domains: pregnancy and obstetric; maternal mental health; infant; and the quality of the care-giving environment. Mechanisms identified in the included studies are discussed in relation to the maternal programming hypothesis and directions for future research. Method We completed a comprehensive literature search of eight electronic databases. Independent quality assessments were conducted and PRISMA protocols applied to data extraction. Results Inclusion criteria was met by N = 49 studies. MCM was consistently associated with difficulties in maternal and infant emotional regulation and with disturbances in the mother-infant relationship. Directly observed and maternal-reported difficulties in the mother-infant relationship were often mediated by mothers’ current symptoms of psychopathology. Direct and mediated associations between MCM and adverse pregnancy and obstetric outcomes were suggested by a limited number of studies. Emotional and sexual abuse were the most consistent MCM subtype significantly associated with adverse perinatal outcomes. Limitations A meta-analysis was not possible due to inconsistent reporting and the generally small number of studies for most perinatal outcomes. Conclusions MCM is associated with adverse perinatal outcomes for mothers’ and infants. Evidence suggests these associations are mediated by disruptions to maternal emotional functioning. Future research should explore biological and psychosocial mechanisms underpinning observed associations between specific subtypes of MCM and adverse perinatal outcomes. Services have a unique opportunity to screen for MCM and detect women and infants at risk of adverse outcomes during the perinatal period.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0165-0327
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 14 January 2022
Date of Acceptance: 13 January 2022
Last Modified: 03 May 2023 07:30

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