Psychosocial stress during pregnancy is related to adverse birth outcomes: results from a large multi-ethnic community-based birth cohort

Eur J Public Health. 2013 Jun;23(3):485-91. doi: 10.1093/eurpub/cks097. Epub 2012 Jul 31.


Background: Prevalence rates of psychosocial stress during pregnancy are substantial. Evidence for associations between psychosocial stress and birth outcomes is inconsistent. This study aims to identify and characterize different clusters of pregnant women, each with a distinct pattern of psychosocial stress, and investigate whether birth outcomes differ between these clusters.

Methods: Latent class analysis was performed on data of 7740 pregnant women (Amsterdam Born Children and their Development study). Included constructs were depressive symptoms, state anxiety, job strain, pregnancy-related anxiety and parenting stress.

Results: Five clusters of women with distinct patterns of psychosocial stress were objectively identified. Babies born from women in the cluster characterized as 'high depression and high anxiety, moderate job strain' (12%) had a lower birth weight, and those in the 'high depression and high anxiety, not employed' cluster (15%) had an increased risk of pre-term birth.

Conclusions: Babies from pregnant women reporting both high levels of anxiety and depressive symptoms are at highest risk for adverse birth outcomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Cohort Studies
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Ethnic Groups / psychology*
  • Ethnic Groups / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Linear Models
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Parenting / ethnology
  • Parenting / psychology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / etiology
  • Pregnancy Complications / psychology*
  • Pregnancy Outcome*
  • Pregnant Women / ethnology
  • Pregnant Women / psychology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / complications
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Workload / psychology