Prenatal anger effects on the fetus and neonate

J Obstet Gynaecol. 2002 May;22(3):260-6. doi: 10.1080/01443610220130526.


One hundred and sixty-six women were classified as experiencing high or low anger during the second trimester of pregnancy. The high-anger women also had high scores on depression and anxiety scales. In a follow-up across pregnancy, the fetuses of the high-anger women were noted to be more active and to experience growth delays. The high-anger mothers' high prenatal cortisol and adrenaline and low dopamine and serotonin levels were mimicked by their neonates' high cortisol and low dopamine levels. The high-anger mothers and infants were also similar on their relative right frontal EEG activation and their low vagal tone. Finally, the newborns of high-anger mothers had disorganised sleep patterns (greater indeterminate sleep and more state changes) and less optimal performance on the Brazelton Neonatal Behavior Assessment Scale (orientation, motor maturity and depression). These data highlight the need for prenatal intervention for elevated angry mood during pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Anger* / physiology
  • Embryonic and Fetal Development*
  • Female
  • Fetal Movement*
  • Humans
  • Infant Behavior*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pregnancy / physiology
  • Pregnancy / psychology*
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Second