Warning message

This content is filtered. APPPAH membership is required for full access to journal articles.
-A +A
Publication Date: 
January, 2006
Page Count: 
Starting Page: 

This article reviews existing research on how a pregnant mother's mental health status, stress level, and temperament affect her unborn baby's sensory processing abilities. After a brief introduction to sensory integration and sensory processing, research on how scientists learn about the fetus' developing nervous system by observing his/her behavior is presented. Maternal temperament and increased stress during pregnancy often impact temperament and developmental delay. This appears to negatively impact the unborn baby's physical, cognitive, self-regulation, and sensory processing abilities. An unhealthy maternal mental state negatively affects the unborn child's development. This stress during pregnancy appears to negatively impact the baby's cognitive and physical development and self-regulation abilities.


Ayres, A.J. (1972). Sensory Integration and learning disabilities. Los Angeles: Western Psychological Services.

Buitelaar, J.K., Huizink, A.C., Mulder, E.J., Robles de Medina, P.G., & Visser, G.H. (2003). Prenatal stress and cognitive development and temperament in infants. Neurobiology of Aging, 4, 53-60.

Carlsen, R. & Lickliter, R. (1999). Augmented prenatal tactile and vestibular stimulation alters postnatal auditory and visual responsiveness in Bobwhite Quail chicks. Developmental Psychobiology, 35, 215-225.

Chamberlain, D. (1998). The Mind of your newborn baby. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.

Hepper, P. (1992). Comparative studies of prenatal learning and behavior. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology B; Comparative and Physiological Psychology, 44B(3-A), 305-317.

Huizink, C.C. (2000). Prenatal stress and its effect on infant development. Unpublished PhD. Thesis. University of Utracht.

Kawar, M. (2005). Vestibular habilitation: Sensory Organization for Moving, Looking, and Listening. Workshop presented at the Occupational Therapy Association of California Annual Conference in San Jose, California on October 28, 2006.

Miller, L. (2004). Current Research on Sensory Processing Disorders: What to Tell Your Physician about SPD. Lecture given May 2004 in San Jose, CA.

Misri, S., Oberlander, T.F., & Fairbrother, N. (2004). Relation between prenatal maternal mood and anxiety and neonatal health. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 49(10), 684-689.

Ronca, A.E. & Alberts, J.R. (1992). Maternal contributions to fetal experience and the transition from prenatal to postnatal life. In Lecanuet, J., W.P. Fifer, W.P. Krasnegor, N.A., & Smotherman, W.P. (Eds.) (1995). Fetal Development A Psychobiological Perspective (pp. 405-418). Hillsdale, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

RUSS, B. (2005). Personal interview.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (1999). Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General-Executive Summary. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Mental Health Services, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Mental Health.