Amsterdam Born Children and their Development

Early childhood

Phase 3, the assessment of the health and development of the 5-7 year old children, has finished. In total, 4,488 parents completed the questionnaire and 3,321 children were examined during the ABCD health check!

The data collected from the questionnaires and health check at age 5 has been used for many research purposes. We looked at ethnic and socioeconomic differences in health and development of children. We have also investigated if health and development is influenced by psychosocial stress and eating habits during pregnancy.

We observed ethnic inequalities in overweight at age 5. Turkish and Moroccan children were more often overweight. Turkish children showed the most adverse profile with higher blood pressure, glucose and triglyceride levels, mainly explainable by their overweight. Their Moroccan peers had relatively less cardiometabolic risk, despite their high BMI. Children from a lower socioeconomic background have poorer metabolic outcomes than children from higher socioeconomic background. Explanatory factors of these findings are maternal smoking during pregnancy, maternal prepregnancy body mass index and weight gain in the first year of life, the latter party acting through shorter breastfeeding duration in children from lower socioeconomic background.

Almost 30% of the pregnant women reported psychosocial stress during pregnancy, this percentage was even higher in Turkish, Moroccan and African descent women. Psychosocial stress, like anxiety, depression and job strain, does not lead to overweight at age 5. However high psychosocial stress could increase the risk of high blood pressure in children. Moreover antenatal anxiety was associated with alterations in neurocognitive functioning at age 5. Children of mothers who reported higher levels of anxiety during their pregnancy showed more overall problem behavior, like hyperactivity and emotional symptoms. Stronger associations were found in both neurocognitive functioning and problem behavior in boys than in girls. Maternal caffeine intake was not associated with a higher risk of problem behavior at age 5. Higher maternal concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids, decreased the risk of children’s emotional problems. Higher omega-6 to omega-3 ratio increased the risks for emotional symptoms and hyperactivity/inattention problems.

For an overview of the study’s results so far, please follow this link. A list of all articles that have been published in scientific journals can be found here.