Maternal Socioeconomic Resources and Child’s Language Development: The Role of Prenatal Environment

Sanni Kotimäki , University of Turku
Laura Salonen, University of Turku, the Social Insurance Institution of Finland

Children’s early language ability is related to later educational achievements. The aim of this study is to assess how maternal education and economic wellbeing are associated with the child's early language development and whether this association is mediated by mother’s prenatal distress. Using the FinnBrain Cohort Study on pregnancy and early life outcomes linked to Finnish longitudinal registers, we apply linear regression models to analyse 994 mothers and their children. Children’s language development was assessed with the child’s vocabulary size at the age of 30 months using MCDI (MacArthur Communicative Development Inventory). Mother’s prenatal stress was measured as symptoms of depression, anxiety and pregnancy-related anxiety. Our preliminary results show that both the mother’s level of education and economic wellbeing were positively associated with the child’s language development, but prenatal distress did not mediate these connections. In the fully adjusted models, the association remained significant for the mother’s education but not for the economic wellbeing. Additionally, male sex, being bilingual and having siblings were associated with a smaller number of words. The precise mechanisms on how parental resources are related to child’s early development still need to be elucidated.

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 Presented in Session 85. Early Life Conditions and Health