Effects of the 2011 flood in Thailand on birth outcomes and perceived social support

J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. 2014 Jul-Aug;43(4):435-44. doi: 10.1111/1552-6909.12466. Epub 2014 Jun 24.


Objective: To determine the effects of displacement due to flooding during pregnancy on birth outcomes (infant birth weight and gestational age) and the moderating effect of perceived social support on the relationship between displacement and birth outcomes.

Design: A descriptive, longitudinal study.

Setting: A university-affiliated hospital in Pathum Thani, Thailand.

Participants: Pregnant women (N = 175) in the third trimester that had uncomplicated pregnancies and no history of mental illness.

Methods: During pregnancy, the participants completed standardized measurements of depression symptoms, perceived social support, and questionnaires concerning the effect of the flood. After giving birth, infant birth weight and gestational age at birth were retrieved from delivery records.

Results: Seventy percent (n = 123) of the participants experienced displacement during the flood. The displaced women had a mean infant birth weight of 175 grams less than that of the nondisplaced women, t(173) = -2.38, p = .02, whereas infant gestational age was not different. Displacement and other variables explained approximately 8% of the variance in infant birth weight. The interaction term between displacement and perceived social support was statistically significant and additionally explained the variance in infant birth weight, F(6, 168) = 3.24, p = .005.

Conclusion: Being displaced during pregnancy due to a natural disaster affected fetal growth rather than length of gestation. Health care providers should closely monitor maternal weight gain and fetal growth of pregnant women who experience displacement. Among the displaced women, social support was associated with higher infant birth weight; therefore, high levels of perceived social support may be protective for pregnant women who experience stressful events such as displacement from flooding.

Keywords: birth outcomes; displacement; natural disaster; social support.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Disasters*
  • Female
  • Fetal Growth Retardation* / epidemiology
  • Fetal Growth Retardation* / psychology
  • Floods*
  • Gestational Age
  • Housing / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight / psychology
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy Complications / physiopathology
  • Pregnancy Complications / prevention & control
  • Pregnancy Complications / psychology
  • Pregnancy Outcome / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Third
  • Social Support*
  • Stress, Psychological* / epidemiology
  • Stress, Psychological* / physiopathology
  • Stress, Psychological* / prevention & control
  • Thailand / epidemiology