Research indicates a higher prevalence of attention deficits in children exposed to HG in utero compared to controls with some claiming that the deficit is due to prenatal effects of malnutrition in HG mothers and others that it is due to maternal mental health after birth. The current study examines the effect of hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) diagnosis during pregnancy on infant attention controlling for maternal stress, depression anxiety and attachment. Thirty-eight infants mean age 4 months were videotaped with their mothers (19 mothers with a hyperemesis diagnosis and 19 controls) during play with a soft toy and looking at a picture book. Infant attention was operationalized as gaze direction towards the play activity, mother, and ‘distracted’ (indicated by looking away from play or mother). Mothers completed stress, depression, anxiety, and attachment questionnaires. HG exposed infants attended for significantly less time during play with a book or soft toy compared to controls. Maternal stress, depression, anxiety, and attachment did not differ in HG mothers and controls. Infant ability to attend to the toy, book, mother or being distracted did not relate to maternal postnatal attachment, or mental health. These results suggest that the prenatal environment, especially exposure to HG might be associated with reduced infant attention abilities independent of maternal postnatal health.
Reissland, N., Matthewson, J., & Einbeck, J. (2023). Association between Hyperemesis Gravidarum in pregnancy on postnatal ability of infants to attend to a play task with their mother. Infant Behavior & Development, 71, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.infbeh.2023.101823