Objectives: To analyze the relationships between stressful life conditions, social support, and depressive symptomatology during pregnancy in women of low socioeconomic status and a comparison group of women of higher socioeconomic status.
Methods: Study participants were recruited from four hospital prenatal care clinics. Low socioeconomic status was defined as no more than 11 years of education and a household income below the poverty level. Higher socioeconomic status was defined as at least 12 years of education and a household income at least one and one-half times the poverty level. All subjects were nulliparous, over 18 years of age, and French-speaking. Questionnaires were administered verbally at the participants' homes during the 30th week of pregnancy, approximately. The Beck Depression Inventory was used to measure depressive symptomatology during the preceding 7 days.
Results: Approximately 47% of the low socioeconomic status women and 20% of the higher socioeconomic status women scored 10 or more on the Beck Depression Inventory, indicating a depressive state. Multiple regression analysis demonstrated that chronic stressors (eg, financial and housing problems), negative life events, and inadequate social support were all linked to high depressive symptomatology during pregnancy.
Conclusion: During pregnancy, depressive symptoms are common, especially in women of low socioeconomic status, and are strongly related to socioenvironmental factors.