Prenatal maternal anxiety appears to disrupt functional connectivity in late second- to third-trimester fetal brains.
Why this matters
This is the first study of in utero exposure to elevated levels of stress, depression, and anxiety on in vivo fetal brain function. The findings suggest that changes in the fetal connectome could be early biomarkers of altered brain development and later neurodevelopmental disabilities. The findings support the need for widespread screening of pregnant women for symptoms of anxiety.