Maternal personality traits and risk of preterm birth and fetal growth restriction

Eur Psychiatry. 2013 May;28(4):213-8. doi: 10.1016/j.eurpsy.2011.11.006. Epub 2012 Apr 24.


Background/aims: Maternal personality may increase vulnerability to stress, which could lead to an unfavourable intrauterine environment to the fetus. We sought to investigate the impact of maternal personality traits on adverse birth outcomes such as preterm birth, and fetal growth restriction in the mother-child cohort study (RHEA Study) in Crete, Greece 2007-2009.

Methods: Five hundred and eighty pregnant women participating in "Rhea" cohort study completed the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire-Revised (EPQ-R) at 28-32 weeks of gestation. Information on anthropometric measures at birth was obtained from the hospital delivery logs and medical records. Fetal growth restriction was based on a customized model, and multivariate logistic regression models were used adjusting for confounders.

Results: A per unit increase in the EPQ Neuroticism scale increased the risk for fetal weight growth restriction by 9% [odds ratio (OR)=1.09, 95 percent CI: 1.01, 1.19)], and for fetal head circumference growth restriction by 6% [OR=1.06, 95 percent CI: 1.01, 1.18] after adjusting for maternal age, education, origin, marital status, working status, pre-pregnancy BMI, delivery type, parity, smoking, and alcohol intake during pregnancy.

Conclusions: Maternal neuroticism, which predisposes to negative mood, may be a risk factor for fetal growth restriction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Birth Weight
  • Female
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / epidemiology
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / etiology*
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / psychology
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Maternal Age
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Personality Inventory
  • Personality*
  • Pregnancy
  • Premature Birth / epidemiology
  • Premature Birth / etiology*
  • Premature Birth / psychology
  • Risk