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These are factors which can affect maternal, paternal and child mental health which occur during the prenatal period (pregnancy) or perinatal period (pregnancy and one year post-birth) (1,2).



Pre/Perinatal Factors Risk

Risk Factor

Prenatal factors can also be a risk factor for the child’s mental health. During pregnancy, poor maternal mental health, stress, diet, infections such as influenza, and alcohol exposure have been associated with adverse effects on child mental health (3–7).

The perinatal period can be a risk factor for maternal mental health difficulties, as between 10 and 20 per cent of women experience mental health difficulties, such as anxiety, depression or psychosis, during this period (3). Posttraumatic stress disorder can also occur in the perinatal period if traumatic events occurred during pregnancy or childbirth (8).

Both periods can also be a risk factor for paternal mental health. A study by the National Childcare Trust has shown nearly 40% of new dads have concerns about their mental health (9).



1.        Collins Dictionairy. Prenatal definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary [Internet]. HarperCollins Publishers. [cited 2021 Jan 12]. Available from:

2.        Mind. Our communities, Our Mental Health, Commissioning for better public mental health. London; 2015.

3.        Bauer A, Parsonage M, Knapp M, Iemmi V, Adelaja B. The costs of perinatal mental health problems. London; 2014.

4.        DeSocio JE. Epigenetics, maternal prenatal psychosocial stress, and infant mental health. Arch Psychiatr Nurs. 2018 Dec 1;32(6):901–6.

5.        Jacka FN, Ystrom E, Brantsaeter AL, Karevold E, Roth C, Haugen M, et al. Maternal and early postnatal nutrition and mental health of offspring by age 5 years: A prospective cohort study. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2013 Oct 1;52(10):1038–47.

6.        Brown AS, Begg MD, Gravenstein S, Schaefer CA, Wyatt RJ, Bresnahan M, et al. Serologic evidence of prenatal influenza in the etiology of schizophrenia. Arch Gen Psychiatry [Internet]. 2004 Aug [cited 2021 Feb 3];61(8):774–80. Available from:

7.        Easey KE, Dyer ML, Timpson NJ, Munafò MR. Prenatal alcohol exposure and offspring mental health: A systematic review. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2019 Apr 1;197:344–53.

8.        Howard LM, Molyneaux E, Dennis CL, Rochat T, Stein A, Milgrom J. Non-psychotic mental disorders in the perinatal period. Lancet. 2014 Nov 15;384(9956):1775–88.

9.        National Childcare Trust. Postnatal depression in dads: 10 things you should know. 


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