Journal Article

Maternal Stress and Preterm Birth

N. Dole, D. A. Savitz, I. Hertz-Picciotto, A. M. Siega-Riz, M. J. McMahon and P. Buekens

in American Journal of Epidemiology

Published on behalf of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Volume 157, issue 1, pages 14-24
Published in print January 2003 | ISSN: 0002-9262
Published online January 2003 | e-ISSN: 1476-6256 | DOI:
Maternal Stress and Preterm Birth

Show Summary Details


This study examined a comprehensive array of psychosocial factors, including life events, social support, depression, pregnancy-related anxiety, perceived discrimination, and neighborhood safety in relation to preterm birth (<37 weeks) in a prospective cohort study of 1,962 pregnant women in central North Carolina between 1996 and 2000, in which 12% delivered preterm. There was an increased risk of preterm birth among women with high counts of pregnancy-related anxiety (risk ratio (RR) = 2.1, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.5, 3.0), with life events to which the respondent assigned a negative impact weight (RR = 1.8, 95% CI: 1.2, 2.7), and with a perception of racial discrimination (RR = 1.4, 95% CI: 1.0, 2.0). Different levels of social support or depression were not associated with preterm birth. Preterm birth initiated by labor or ruptured membranes was associated with pregnancy-related anxiety among women assigning a high level of negative impact weights (RR = 3.0, 95% CI: 1.7, 5.3). The association between high levels of pregnancy-related anxiety and preterm birth was reduced when restricted to women without medical comorbidities, but the association was not eliminated. The prospective collection of multiple psychosocial measures on a large population of women indicates that a subset of these factors is associated with preterm birth.

Keywords: anxiety; depression; discrimination (psychology); infant, premature; pregnancy; social support; stress, psychological; Abbreviations: CI, confidence interval; RR, risk ratio.

Journal Article.  5951 words. 

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.