Childhood Maltreatment and Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders: A Systematic Review

Trauma Violence Abuse. 2016 Dec;17(5):427-453. doi: 10.1177/1524838015584369. Epub 2015 May 17.


Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs) compromise maternal and child well-being and may be influenced by traumatic experiences across the life course. A potent and common form of trauma is childhood maltreatment, but its specific impact on PMADs is not well understood. A systematic review was undertaken to synthesize empirical literature on the relationship between maternal histories of childhood maltreatment and PMADs. Of the 876 citations retrieved, 35 reports from a total of 26,239 participants met inclusion criteria, documenting substantial rates of childhood maltreatment and PMADs. Robust trends of association were observed between childhood maltreatment and perinatal depression, as well as post-traumatic stress disorder, but findings for anxiety were less consistent. Examining multivariate results suggested that childhood maltreatment predicts PMADs above and beyond sociodemographic, psychiatric, perinatal, and psychosocial factors, but may also be partially mediated by variables such as later victimization and moderated by protective early relationships. Future research should test mediating and moderating pathways using prospective cohorts, expanding to cross-cultural settings and other disorder outcomes. Treatment and prevention of childhood maltreatment and its sequelae may help mitigate risk for perinatal psychopathology and its impact on maternal and child outcomes.

Keywords: anxiety; childhood maltreatment; depression; perinatal; review; trauma.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Adult Survivors of Child Abuse / psychology*
  • Anxiety Disorders / epidemiology
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / psychology*
  • Child Abuse / statistics & numerical data
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / psychology
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / statistics & numerical data
  • Depression, Postpartum / epidemiology
  • Depression, Postpartum / psychology
  • Domestic Violence / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mother-Child Relations
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires