Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and severe maternal morbidity: is there an association?

Clinics (Sao Paulo). 2018;73:e309. doi: 10.6061/clinics/2018/e309. Epub 2018 Apr 26.


Objective: To evaluate the occurrence of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder among women experiencing a severe maternal morbidity event and associated factors in comparison with those without maternal morbidity.

Methods: In a retrospective cohort study, 803 women with or without severe maternal morbidity were evaluated at 6 months to 5 years postpartum for the presence of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Interviews were conducted by telephone and electronic data was stored. Data analysis was carried out by using χ2, Fisher's Exact test, and logistic regression analysis.

Results: There was no significant change in the prevalence of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder related to a previous severe maternal morbidity experience. There were also no differences in diagnostic criteria for severe maternal morbidity (hypertensive syndromes, hemorrhage, surgical intervention or intensive care unit admission required, among other management criteria). Low parity (2.5-fold risk) and increasing age were factors associated with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Conclusions: A severe maternal morbidity episode is not associated with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms within five years of the severe maternal morbidity event and birth. However, a more advanced maternal age and primiparity increased the risk of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. This does not imply that women who had experienced a severe maternal morbidity event did not suffer or need differentiated care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aftercare / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Maternal Age
  • Morbidity
  • Parity
  • Postpartum Period / psychology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / epidemiology*
  • Pregnancy Complications / psychology
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult