The study, which was just published in the journal Health Psychology, may help doctors decide when and how to conduct an anxiety screening during pregnancy to help prevent preterm birth.
A study found that pregnant women who experience anxiety may deliver their babies sooner than those who don’t. The study, which was just published in the journal Health Psychology, may help doctors decide when and how to conduct an anxiety screening during pregnancy to help prevent preterm birth.
According to lead study author Christine Dunkel Schetter of the University of California Los Angeles in the US, “anxiety about a current pregnancy is a potent psychosocial state that may affect birth outcomes.” “To prevent postpartum depression complications for mothers and kids, depressive symptoms are now assessed in many clinic settings around the globe. According to this and other studies, Dunkel Schetter said we should also be evaluating anxiety in pregnant women.
Previous studies have shown that clinically elevated anxiety symptoms can occur in up to 1 in 4 pregnant women and that anxiety can increase the risk of preterm birth or delivery before 37 weeks. In the most recent study, the researchers looked at data from 196 pregnant women who participated in the Healthy Babies Before Birth study in Denver and Los Angeles. They gave them four different anxiety scales in the first and third trimesters of the women’s pregnancies.
Three were specific to pregnancy: a 10-question and a four-question scale of anxiety related to pregnancy. One was a five-question screener for general anxiety. Another was a nine-question evaluation of a broader range of stressors connected to pregnancy, such as medical care and concerns about raising a child.
According to the researchers, the third trimester of pregnancy had the strongest correlation with earlier births. They claimed that general anxiety during the first trimester also increased the risk of premature birth. Researchers found that women who experience general anxiety early in pregnancy may be more likely to experience anxiety regarding things like medical risks, the baby, labor and delivery, and parenting.
They claimed that the findings persisted even after accounting for the actual medical risk involved in the women’s pregnancies. Our results suggest that women who do follow this progression are likely to be especially at risk for earlier delivery, Dunkel Schetter said. “Although not all women who begin pregnancy with general anxiety symptoms will later experience pregnancy-specific anxiety,” she added.
According to the study, doctors should screen pregnant women for general anxiety early, just as they do for depression. The researchers added that women who scored highly could be watched for changes in stress and possibly given interventions later in pregnancy.