Hosseini SM, Biglan MW, Larkby C, et al. Trait anxiety in pregnant women predicts offspring birth outcomes

Departments of Physical Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.
Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology (Impact Factor: 3.13). 11/2009; 23(6):557-66. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-3016.2009.01065.x
Source: PubMed


The goal of our study was to characterise the relationships between trait anxiety symptoms of women during their pregnancies and birth outcomes of their offspring using a longitudinal cohort from the Maternal Health Practices and Child Development Project. We used the State-Trait Personality Index anxiety measure that is based on Spielberger's State-Trait Anxiety Inventory to measure self-reported trait anxiety at two gestational assessments (fourth and seventh months, representing the first and second trimesters, respectively) and at a third assessment shortly after delivery (representing the third trimester). Demographic, social, psychological, substance use and medical factors were assessed prenatally, and outcomes of the 763 live, singleton births were determined at delivery. In regression models, trait anxiety at the second and third trimesters predicted lower birthweight and shorter birth length, controlling for confounders. Anxiety reported at the third trimester predicted shortened gestational age, controlling for confounders. At the first and second trimesters, the relationship of birthweight and birth length to maternal trait anxiety was only significant for severe anxiety. Women whose anxiety reached severe levels for at least two trimesters were significantly more likely to deliver offspring of lower birthweight and shorter birth length than those women who reported severe anxiety at none or only one of the trimesters. Additionally, offspring of women who experienced severe anxiety during all three trimesters had shorter mean gestational age than offspring of women who did not report severe anxiety at any trimester. Women who report chronic, severe trait anxiety are at the highest risk of having shorter gestations and delivering smaller babies.

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    • "It is widely recognised that stress during pregnancy may affect neuroendocrine development in the foetus and the formation of a secure attachment bond with the newborn and, consequently, the socio-emotional development of the child (Campbell and Cohn, 1997; Jacobsen, 1999). High anxiety during pregnancy has been linked to lower birth weight, shorter birth length, shorter gestations (Hosseini et al., 2009) and increased uterine artery resistance (Teixeira et al., 1999). Anxiety in pregnancy could have long-term effects on children's behavioural/emotional problems (O'Connor et al., 2002). "
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    • "Perceived stress is often associated with symptoms such as anxiety and fatigue [2, 3] and these related symptoms may increase the deleterious effect of stress on health and birth outcomes. For example, state and trait anxiety during pregnancy has been associated with stress and has been found to significantly predict gestational age and preterm birth [4, 5]. Likewise, maternal fatigue has been found to be positively associated with stress [6] and anxiety [7, 8] and is recognized as a symptom of these mental states [9]. "
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