Maternal well-being and child behavior in families with fragile X syndrome

Claire T. Hauser, Sara T. Kover, Leonard J Abbeduto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to examine the bidirectional relationships relationship between maternal mental health status, maternal stress, family environment and behavioral functioning of children with fragile X syndrome (FXS), the leading cause of inherited intellectual disability. Children with FXS commonly demonstrate challenging behavior related to anxiety, attention, and aggression, whereas mothers of children with FXS have been identified as susceptible to mental health challenges due to their status as genetic carriers of the FXS premutation, as well as the environmental stressors of raising children with special needs. The longitudinal design of this study builds upon prior work that established a concurrent relationship among these factors in families of children with other intellectual disorders. Findings indicated that maternal mental health status was not significantly related to changes in levels of child challenging behavior, heightened child challenging behavior was related to improvements in maternal depression over time, and heightened levels of child challenging behavior was related to increased feelings of maternal closeness toward the child over time. The unexpected nature of the results regarding maternal depression and closeness provides new and more complex hypotheses about how mothers of special needs children demonstrate adaptation and resilience. The findings have implications for maternal and familial mental health treatment as well as future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2477-2486
Number of pages10
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Child behavior
  • Fragile x syndrome
  • Maternal outcomes
  • Mental health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Maternal well-being and child behavior in families with fragile X syndrome'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this