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The purpose of the current study was to explore associations between maternal anxiety and infant temperament. Participants (n = 60 women) completed measures of state and trait anxiety during the third trimester of pregnancy and again three months postpartum, as well as an assessment of infant temperament. Maternal trait anxiety predicted infant distress to novelty and limitations, and difficulty soothing. Antenatal state anxiety predicted less infant positive affect and lower attention-span. Postnatal state anxiety was related to infant activity level and distress to limitations. Results are discussed in terms of conceptual mechanisms that may underlie the complex inter-associations between different types of maternal anxiety and infant temperament.

KEY WORDS: maternal anxiety, infant temperament, pregnancy, postpartum mood.


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Robert J. Coplan, PhD, is an Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, Carleton University. Correspondence: 1125 Colonel By Drive, Ottawa, Ontario, K1S 5B6 Canada, Phone: 613-520-2600 ext. 8691, Fax: 613-520-3667, email:

Kim O'Neil, MA and Kimberley A. Arbeau, MA are also currently affiliated with Carleton University: Arbeau as a PhD student; O'Neil as a sessional lecturer.

JOURNAL OF PRENATAL AND PERINATAL PSYCHOLOGY AND HEALTH publishes research and clinical articles from the cutting edge of the science of prenatal and perinatal psychology and health. The journal, published quarterly since 1986, is dedicated to the in-depth exploration human reproduction and pregnancy and the mental and emotional development of the unborn and newborn child.

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