A new study suggests that there might be a link between complications during childbirth and social anxiety in children later on in their lives, and especially during their preteen years. A team from the University of Maryland studied children ages 9 to 12 and found that those who had perinatal complications displayed social society symptoms. The research was published in the journal Infant and Child Development.
According to Science Daily, mothers who had difficult pregnancies or complications during their labor might have children who exhibit social anxiety behaviors. Social anxiety is described as a disorder or a phobia in which a person displays fear when placed in social settings, according to Anxiety and Depression Association of America. This can lead to distress and an impaired ability to function. Those who suffer from social anxiety often feel that they are being scrutinized by their peers, too.
Lead author Dr. Santiago Morales of the University of Maryland explained in the study that the children’s "behavioral inhibition acted as a pathway between birth complications and social anxiety symptoms." Perinatal complications were associated with higher levels of symptoms of social anxiety.
Dr. Morales said, “This study sets the stage for future longitudinal work examining whether childhood temperament is a developmental path by which birth complications lead to social anxiety symptoms.”
The study didn’t state or detail what kind of childbirth complications were linked to a child’s behavioral inhibitions later in life, though. Women who experience labor contractions before their 37th week of pregnancy is often associated with preterm labor. Babies who are born prematurely are often at risk for complications that include immature lungs, respiratory distress, and even digestive problems. Prolonged labor is when a woman is in labor for more than 20 hours for first-time mothers and 14 hours for women who have already given birth, according to the American Pregnancy Association. Studies say that women who have prolonged labors may give birth to children who may experience long term complications later on in life, too.
Health experts say that there are several different ways both kids and adults can be treated for their social anxiety. One of the most effective ways is through cognitive behavioral therapy, which can be done individually or in a group setting. There is also medication available (prescribed by doctors) along with different forms of psychotherapy.