The relationship between psychological distress during pregnancy and birth weight for gestational age

Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 1996 Jan;75(1):32-9. doi: 10.3109/00016349609033280.


Background: Fetal growth may be determined by genetic as well as environmental factors. Whether psychological distress during pregnancy influences fetal growth is a matter of debate.

Material and methods: A prospective population-based study with repeated measures of psychological distress (General Health Questionnaire) during pregnancy, based on the use of questionnaires. Danish speaking women with singleton pregnancies attending antenatal care between August 1, 1989 and September 30, 1991 were eligible to the study (n = 8719). Of these women 5868 women (67%) completed all questionnaires. The main outcome measure was fetal growth (assessed as birth weight for gestational age (continuous)) and birth weight below the 10th percentile of birth weight for gestational age (light for gestational age (LGA) (dichotomous). Gestational age was calculated primarily from an early ultrasound scan. Confounders were controlled using multivariate statistical methods.

Results: Birth weight for gestational age and risk of delivering a LGA baby were not associated with psychological distress, neither distress in 16th week nor in 30th week of pregnancy.

Conclusion: To the extent that fetal growth can be explored at birth, the results indicate that psychological distress does not influence fetal growth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Birth Weight*
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Denmark
  • Depressive Disorder / complications
  • Depressive Disorder / physiopathology*
  • Embryonic and Fetal Development / physiology*
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Small for Gestational Age
  • Maternal Age
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires