Problem: Low socioeconomic status and prior negative life events are documented risk factors for antenatal anxiety and depression, preterm birth and birth weight. We aimed to asses whether the adverse effects of prior negative life events increase with lower socioeconomic status and which aspects of socioeconomic status are most relevant.
Methods: We performed a population-based cohort study in the Netherlands including 5398 women in their first trimester of pregnancy. We assessed the number of negative life events prior to pregnancy, aspects of paternal and maternal socio-economic position and symptoms of anxiety and depression. Associations of the number of prior negative life events with anxiety, depression, low birth weight and gestational age were quantified.
Findings: The number of prior negative life events, particularly when they had occurred in the two years before pregnancy and maternal aspects of low socioeconomic status (educational level, unemployment and income) were associated with antenatal anxiety and depression. Furthermore, low socioeconomic status increased the adverse effects of prior negative life events. Obstetric outcomes showed similar trends, although mostly not statistically significant.
Discussion: Low socioeconomic status and prior negative life events both have an adverse effect on antenatal anxiety and depression. Furthermore, low socioeconomic status increases the adverse impact of prior negative life events on anxiety and depressive symptoms in pregnancy.
Conclusion: Interventions for anxiety and depression during pregnancy should be targeted particularly to unemployed, less-educated or low-income women who recently experienced negative life events.
Keywords: Anxiety; Depression; Negative life events; Pregnancy; Socioeconomic status.
Copyright © 2018 Australian College of Midwives. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.