Is Maternal Exposure to Childhood Trauma Associated With Maternal-Fetal Attachment?


  • Rafaelle Stark Stigger
  • Clarissa de Souza Ribeiro Martins
  • Mariana Bonati de Matos
  • Jéssica Puchalski Trettim
  • Gabriela Kurz da Cunha
  • Carolina Coelho Scholl
  • Mariana Pereira Ramos
  • Janaína Vieira dos Santos Motta
  • Gabriele Ghisleni
  • Ricardo Tavares Pinheiro
  • Luciana de Avila Quevedo


Adults with childhood maltreatment history can face a difficult experience in transitioning to parenthood. Women with a history of emotional neglect in childhood tend to experience problematic attachment. The study's aim was to evaluate the relationship between childhood trauma and maternal-fetal attachment in pregnant women in a population-based study in Southern Brazil. This is a longitudinal study with pregnant women who were interviewed in two moments: before 24-weeks of pregnancy and 60 days after the first interview. We used the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire and the Maternal-Fetal Attachment Scale. The mean of maternal-fetal attachment in the general sample was 99.8 (± 10.8). The mean of emotional neglect was 8.9 (± 4.7); physical neglect 6.7 (± 2.8); sexual abuse 5.9 (± 3.0); physical abuse 6.8 (± 3.1) and emotional abuse 8.0 (± 4.1). After adjusted analysis, we found that pregnant women who suffered emotional neglect had 0.4 points less on the average on the maternal-fetal attachment, β = -0.4, CI 95% [-0.6, -0.2], and pregnant women who suffered emotional abuse had 0.2 points less on the average on the maternal-fetal attachment, β = -0.2, CI 95% [-0.5, -0.0]. Only emotional neglect and emotional abuse were associated with maternal-fetal attachment. This study showed that a history of childhood trauma can have a negative impact during the prenatal period, and can impair maternal-fetal attachment. The data found can assist health professionals in identifying factors that can protect and contribute to pregnant women who were victims of childhood trauma to face the transition to parenthood in the best possible way.