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Pregnant and suffering anxiety - can it cause ADHD in the foetus

(16 Posts)
frazer41 Wed 07-Sep-11 13:06:49

Hi, I read that high levels of anxiety can cause adhd in the foetus and it can show in later life.

My gp is not keen to give any anti d while preg but I worry that anxiety can cause adhd. I also would be keen to know if anyone has been on setraline while preg and what medical advice they were give re heart and limb problems.
Also did it make their preg more relaxed and enjoyable?

I am not preg but lost my 2nd preg in June but the mc started all the anxiety and thoghts and depression again. I want another baby but so worried I will have terrible anxiety, caused adhd or a nervous crying baby if I dont take meds but if I do will the baby have disabilities.

Also any women age 40 who have anxiety pnd and have went thru amnio and how did you cope? I think I will worry myself ill all the way thru. How did you cope thinking "What if the child has a serious disability, will I cope?" I am sorry to admit that with the anxiety I suffer I do not think I would cope with a disabled baby, sorry to say that. I would need every test to help me relax. My age is such a worry but when I calm down I realise other women I know are preg at my age. I look at them and think oh their baby will be fine but look at myself and think something terrible would happen.

Any thoughts and experience would be fab.

NanaNina Wed 07-Sep-11 13:34:42

How many children do you have Frazer. I am not a new mum - rather an old one with grown up family - retired social worker. There is some evidence that if there is tension in the mother caused by something like domestic violence that this can effect the baby in utero. But I have never heard anything as explicit as anxiety in pregnancy causing ADHD. Where did you read that I wonder? There is very little known about brain disorder anyway and I can't believe that anyone could make such a pronouncement.

It is small wonder you are depressed and anxious after such a recent miscarriage - depression is almost always caused by loss of one sort or another. To be honest it sounds to me like you are worrying about so many things on differing levels, that this could be exacerbating your anxiety.

I am no medic (a sufferer of anx/dep) but think the first thing you should do is get help for the dep/anx you are suffering at the moment. Maybe some therapy would help for you to talk about the loss of a baby through miscarriage in June this year. Sometimes grief can get stuck if it isn't thought about/cried about/talked about etc.

Take one step at a time if you can because at the moment you are imagining all sorts of scenarios which is not really helpful to you. I know that age is not on your side, but I think that the priority now is to get yourself feeling better, and then thinking about the possible next step.

Hope other young mums be along soon to maybe give you better advice.

frazer41 Wed 07-Sep-11 13:53:22

Thanks for your quick reply. I am worrying about every little thing. I googled anxiety during preg and they said something like neuro pathways are linked to baby etc. I just flipped.

I know due to anxiety and ocd thoughts I do grab onto statements and take the worst out of it. When my ds was born he was hard work, very very stubborn but all the same loving and fab in other ways. I remember before delivery worrying I hope I dont get one with adhd, not overly worried but concerned as it was a hot topic for a while.

Since his birth even granny admitted he was a difficult child a times. In nursery at 3 he never settled for the first year, again being stubborn and missing me so much he did not want to be there, but never violent etc. He is in p2 now and his concentration etc has come on leaps and bounds in class, never in my opinion a prob at home as if he was interested in something he would concentrate all day, electronics, pc, mechanical. He used to drive me crazy as he never did what he was asked first time without it turning into me getting angry with him after asking 10 times. His teachers said he was stubborn and had his own agenda but never once said adhd, and there have been a few in the school.

After reading that article I now have started blaming myself for his behaviour. I must have given off vibes after having him that were anxious and pnd symptoms of depression that caused him to be like this. He must have some how sensed my panic, causing him to be a cry baby day and night.

On a plus point when he was born I was on the verge of having a bonding issue, never knew thats what it was but, my mum reassured me by constantly telling me he was a beauty. Thank goodness for mums. It never came to anything and all thru his life he has been shown love, love and more love. I can see this in his personality now, as he is so loving and especially caring to babies in the school playground, constantly asking when we are getting one. He also tells us he loves us and how he knows mummy and daddy love him more than the whole wide world. One of our little saying are "Is there a lot of love in this house?" so I must have done something right.

Worry another baby will put my sons behaviour back the way as in his toddler year we did spend lots of time playing and teaching him good behaviour. Also so worried that at his age 6 he may see my ill and this will effect his personality and he himself will have issues when he grows up, end up in therapy saying "I remember my mum was ill after my bro/sis was born and everything changed" In your experience have kids had these issues? He is turning out just perfect and I dont want him to suffer just because of my needs, he come and will always come first but I know he would love a baby in the house and benefit from having a sibling.

frazer41 Wed 07-Sep-11 13:54:01

Sorry forgot to say I only have one child

madmouse Wed 07-Sep-11 13:58:49

First of all I am mum to a disabled little one (3.5 year old ds) - don't worry I'm so not offended by your comments. Just want you to know that looking after a disabled child can be tough but is also special and rewarding. Even with anxiety. I had post traumatic stress from when he was a baby, found it hard to bond with him at first and had and have bad anxiety. But it's all going well - he's thriving. The way you cope with a disabled child is one day at a time, learning as you go alone. No one is born equipped to look after a disabled child. That is why the comment 'special babies for special mummies' winds me up no end.

Also, tests cannot give you any certainty, just predictions and chances. And they can be so wrong. Amnios can give you a miscarriage and that risk is usually higher than the risk of having a Down's baby.

As for the ADHD I've never heard of that. I do know that very little is known about what ADHD is and how it comes to be. Also, anxiety is hard to measure as different people will react in different ways and for example cortisol and adrenaline levels will vary from person to person. I would not worry about it too much.

If you need ADs in pregnancy you need them, full stop. Sertraline does not cause foetal abnormalities as far as can be researched.

My main concern is though that you could probably do with some counselling before starting another pregnancy.

I do sympathise. I want another baby but I'm scared ot death!

frazer41 Wed 07-Sep-11 14:43:28

I think my biggest worry is getting told something may be wrong with the baby and I run away out of the hospital unable to cope. If I was anxiety free and myself I would be upset, depressed etc but gain control and find out how to cope. Anything sets of my anxiety right now. I can be calm and relaxed and the next I feel it creeping up on me. I try to use the therapy I was taught and it dies down but if I was preg what would it do to the baby?

Yes, its widely talked about, raised cirtisol and adrenaline levels causing development probs, some say worse than probs a drug uses has after birth. Scary?

I would gladly take anti d during preg if it calmed me down but my gp is so against it. I dont understand why as lots of women do it.

I went to a childs birthday party last year and the lady there had a new baby and also a 4 or 5 year old daughter with downs. What a beautiful little girl she was and the mum said yes she was worried in her 2nd pregnancy. She was under 35 and that worried me. I thought once again, how very brave to have another and how well she manages and copes and what a lovely wee girl she had brought up. I would be a wreck and unable to cope and feeling sorry for myself, why me etc etc.

A lady I know has a little one with angels syndrome. She has a few other older kids too and this was her last preg. He is adorable but she finds it hard going. She is always well dressed and so in control at the school, life has not stopped for her or her kids and I really look at her in admiration. Where does she get her strength?

Thanks again for your honesty and comments. Good to know you are also worried about another baby. Are you worried as your 3.5 year old needs lots of your time or just the chances of it happening again? I will look into setraline and ask again about therapy. Feel gp feels I had cbt 4 years ago and I have had my turn. Not sure, but when I mention it she never say ok I will write referral. My hv has asked her to refer me for a cpn, community psychiatric nurse to come to the house.

madmouse Wed 07-Sep-11 14:57:54

I have slight concerns how I will handle a newborn and a non-walking child - but ds can walk in his frame, and crawl,, and he may walk by then.

My concerns are related to having another disabled child (ds was brain damaged probably due to an inflammatory response in my body) and having a girl as I was badly abused and worry about not keeping a girl safe.

madmouse Wed 07-Sep-11 15:01:46

by the way I considered running out of the hospital - this very ill pink baby was scary, and didn't feel like mine, and the nurses were better at looking after him. I thought i could leave and pretend I never had a son. It's normal - and it doesn't last.

frazer41 Wed 07-Sep-11 15:54:02

He sounds as if he is doing so well and coming on a treat. Its easy for me to see other peoples issues for what they are when they are not mine to worry about. A child is a child and you have kept your son so safe and with his disability even more care and attention has been provided by you, so you must be a wonderful mum. Any child can be subject to abuse and you would watch over them no matter what sex.

Sorry for being so dumb but what is an inflammatory response? Twins go to my ds gymnastics class, one can walk and another has his legs sort of crossed but behind his back almost, ds totally amazed at how this little one can practically walk on his hands and is so very strong. Its amazing how they cope.

You mentioned you suffered anxiety too. Can I ask how did you get thru your preg, was it with or without med and did you suffer with sleep probs, trembling stomach and the runs etc etc.

I have no idea if my anxiety would have calmed down. I just know after a few days I felt a bit better and was having all those lovely thoughts of excitement and butterflies in my tummy thinking of what lay ahead, baby clothes prams etc. Not sure how long that would have lasted, I am sure it would have kicked in at the 16 week amnio stage.

frazer41 Wed 07-Sep-11 15:56:05

Getting annoyed as surely having babies shouldnt be quite so hard and such an anxious time. I just wish I could get on with life and enjoy my family and the future without anxiety. Just want to be a good mum with my 2 kids and look after them with a relaxed and calm approach like I see others doing.


madwomanintheattic Wed 07-Sep-11 16:14:35

frazer - as well as the research that suggests that raised cortisol levels may increase chances of adhd or similar, there is also plenty of research that suggests cortisol is no problem at all. you are just foucussing on the ones that suggest the worst outcome due to your anxiety.

i just want to make sure that you do understand that the lady you meant who has a daughter with DS, didn't cause the DS by worrying during her pregnancy, not at all. not one iota. not possible.

if it helps, when i was pg with ds1, dh got blown up and given a 20% chance of survival, air evacuation, ended up having brain surgery, etc etc etc. i was under an enormous amount of stress, not just because i didn't know whether dh was going to live, but i also thought i might miscarry due to the stress. (dd1 was 15mos and had to get left with a childminder for a week as we were living overseas and no children under 12 were allowed on the neuro ward - and the hospital was 3 hour drive from the house.)

you need to discuss your anxiety sensibly with your gp - and also discuss your fear that your own axiety has somehow damaged ds1. you need to get this out in the open with professionals, so that you can try and work through it. have you got a counsellor or case worker? how are your meds at the moment? if you feel that you are getting worse, you might want to think about changing your current medication - or asking for a different gp, a second opinion so that you can try and get back on an even keel before you contemplate trying for another baby.

it's still very soon after your mc, and perfectly normal to feel anxious as a result, but maybe you do need to go back to/ find a counsellor to discuss all this stuff to try and find a way through.

oh, i've got three kids now btw. after all the stress of dh whilst being pg with ds1, it's actually dd2 who has a disability. she has cerebral palsy. and i wasn't worried at all during my pg.

adhd, asd, cp, none of them show up on amnio, and none of them are conclusively caused by anything in particular, least of all anxiety. you know that the majority of babies are born healthy. you do know that, when you think about it, so statistically the chances of having a healthy baby are in your favour, but there are no guarantees.

go back to the gp and discuss your anxiety levels. and try to get to a counsellor to discuss ds1 and your fear that your anxiety caused his personality traits.

be kind to yourself. x

madmouse Wed 07-Sep-11 16:38:11

my ds has cerebral palsy too! I did not have such bad anxiety when pregnant, I just generally worried a lot but didn't feel ill/bad with it. I also had a very healthy easy pregnancy and was due to have a home birth but after two days I started to develop pre-eclampsia and went to hospital. ds's disability was a surprise which we found out when he started to have seizures at 12 hours old. Nothing could have been predicted with any tests at all. Just one of those things. Inflammatory response - something upset my body in late pregnancy, raising my temperature and changing the balance of certain substances in my body and my blood - the same happened in ds's brain and he got brain damage as a result. They think! Nothing is certain. Don't google it!!! It means that I will have to have an early-ish c-section next time.

I have always been a worrier as the result of the abuse but the bad anxiety came after his birth due to what happened to him and the fact that the memories of the abuse came back when I felt really helpless at the end of my labour. It's a control thing - I get anxious if I do not have control over a situation, such as when ds is poorly with fever.

And you don't actually need to have an amnio you know! From the view point of my personal faith and beliefs I only have tests for things that can be fixed (HIV - because transfer to baby can be prevented and full blood count plus scans) as I would not abort anyway. Also because my ds has completely defeated the predictions we got for him when he was 5 days old (they didn't know much for sure but they were sure he was blind - but he sees perfectly, they don't have a clue why or how he sees, we think it's the power of much prayer by many people, he also doesn't have the widely predicted epilepsy).

madwomanintheattic Wed 07-Sep-11 16:47:08

yy, med profs always give worst case scenario. they told us dd2 was unlikely to walk or talk. she does both and has an iq of 142. wink she still has cp, but tbh it's just something we get on with. dd2 had szs in the newborn period too mouse, 5 weeks in scbu, but nothing since. her mri showed the bit that's usually damaged in kids with epilepsy is clear, so we have our fingers crossed for the long term. no real way of predicting onset though.

frazer41 Thu 08-Sep-11 13:32:54

Thanks for all your help. No I never once thought anxiety can cause downs in preg, just felt my age may be a factor. I agree the number of babies born healthy is very high and its only the odd one that has problems, think my anxiety makes me feel I will be that one.

I am not on any anti d at the moment. I have fertiltiy issues and when on them my fertility is reduced to nothing at all. I only got preg after coming off them.

I was out with a friend today who has a lovely ds with adhd, she gets a hard time and she said he is mild. She said she has a fab, lovely and enjoyable preg with no anxiety at all, apart from the odd worry we all can have.

I had cbt years ago but I do need to speak to someone re my worries and fears. I need to get my gp to actually explain who can support me with anxiety should I get preg again. I felt on my own last time and felt the gp could offer no extra support for a preg anxious woman. I felt she should have explained how she has treated women with same issues in the past and reassured me not to worry as help was available.

bitsnbobs Thu 08-Sep-11 17:07:52

I have ADHD and from what I know about the subject it is usually genetic, my son has it and so does my mother.

racingmind Mon 12-Sep-11 22:10:34

Hi Frazer. Whilst I relate to every one of your concerns re pregnancy over 40, and am facing this dilemma myself, I would like to share with you my experience re pregnancy, anxiety and the effects on the baby.

I suffered from horrific anxiety from pretty much as soon as I found out I was pregnant right up until the moment my son was born (and since but thats another story). As I've told you before I had to see a psychiatrist throughout and take medication in the later stages.

Last week alone three separate people told me that my son is the happiest baby they have ever met in their lives. I am a very anxious person who tends to always think the worst but even I can see that he is an incredibly chilled out and well adjusted child. He is so good natured, sociable and laid back.

My entire pregnancy was hell for me and drove me to feeling suicidal.
But I am telling you, no, this has not affected my baby in any way. I was absolutley terrified that this would happen when pregnant, but as one midwife put it: the unborn baby is justy floating around quite happy in their little safe space totally oblivious to all the drama going on around them. I thought this was a bit of well meaning bullshit at the time but my boy has proved this to me.

Hope this helps. PM me anytime xx

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