Effects of posttraumatic stress disorder on pregnancy outcomes

J Affect Disord. 2007 Sep;102(1-3):137-43. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2007.01.003. Epub 2007 Feb 8.


Background: The purpose of this study was to determine the association between posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), diagnosed prospectively during pregnancy, and the risk of delivering a low birth weight (<2500 g) or preterm (<37 weeks gestational age) infant.

Methods: Pregnant women were recruited from obstetrics clinics and screened for major and minor depressive disorder, panic disorder, PTSD, and substance use. Current episodes of PTSD were diagnosed according to the MINI International Neuropsychiatric Interview, and pregnancy outcomes were abstracted from hospital records.

Results: Among the 1100 women included in analysis, 31 (3%) were in episode for PTSD during pregnancy. Substance use in pregnancy, panic disorder, major and minor depressive disorder, and prior preterm delivery were significantly associated with a diagnosis of PTSD. Preterm delivery was non-significantly higher in pregnant women with (16.1%) compared to those without (7.0%) PTSD (OR=2.82, 95% C.I. 0.95, 8.38). Low birth weight (LBW) was present in 6.5% of women and was not significantly associated with a diagnosis of PTSD in pregnancy after adjusting for potential confounders. However, LBW was significantly associated with minor depressive disorder (OR=1.82, 95% C.I. 1.01, 3.29).

Limitations: There was a low prevalence of PTSD in this cohort, resulting in limited power.

Conclusions: These data suggest a possible association between PTSD and preterm delivery. Coupled with the association found between LBW and a depressive disorder, these results support the utility of screening for mental health disorders in pregnancy.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child of Impaired Parents / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome*
  • Prevalence
  • Primary Health Care / methods
  • Prospective Studies
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*