The purpose of this paper is to update the evidence for the long‐term effects of the fetal environment on the later antisocial behaviour of the child, and possible interventions.
The authors present a literature review of recent research on the topic.
Recent research confirms and extends previous conclusions. The emotional state, alcohol use, smoking and drug consumption of the mother during pregnancy all increase the risk of the child developing antisocial behaviour. Prenatal anxiety may contribute 10‐15 per cent of the attributable load to behavioural outcomes. The Nurse Family Partnership programme remains the only intervention to start in pregnancy and show a long‐term reduction in the child's antisocial behaviour. However, several other interventions are likely to be helpful.
Stress, anxiety and depression during pregnancy are frequently undetected by health professionals and left untreated. Programmes to help with this, together with the reduction of smoking and alcohol consumption, should help reduce later criminal behaviour.
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