Prenatal maternal stress and prematurity: a prospective study of socioeconomically disadvantaged women

Health Psychol. 1992;11(1):32-40. doi: 10.1037//0278-6133.11.1.32.


Developed and tested a biopsychosocial model of birthweight and gestational age at delivery using structural equation modeling procedures. The model tested the effects of medical risk and prenatal stress on these indicators of prematurity after controlling for whether a woman had ever given birth (parity). Subjects were 130 women of low socioeconomic status interviewed throughout pregnancy in conjunction with prenatal care visits to a public clinic. The majority of women were Latino or African-American. Half were interviewed in Spanish. Lower birthweight was predicted by earlier delivery and by prenatal stress. Earlier delivery was predicted by medical risk and by prenatal stress. Parity was not related to time of delivery or to birthweight. Implications of results for the development of biopsychosocial research on pregnancy and on stress are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Female
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / psychology*
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Life Change Events*
  • Obstetric Labor, Premature / psychology*
  • Personality Assessment
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Care
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors*