, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 181-189
Date: 15 Jun 2005

Neonatal outcomes in offspring of women with anxiety and depression during pregnancy

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Background: The presence of mental disorder during pregnancy could affect the offspring.

Aims: To examine the effects of anxiety disorder and depression in pregnant women on neonatal outcomes, and to compare neonatal outcomes between offspring of attendees and non-attendees in a general population-based health survey.

Method: Pregnant women (n = 680) were identified from the population-based health study of Nord-TrØndelag County (HUNT-2) by linkage with the Medical Birth Registry of Norway. The women rated themselves on the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Rating Scale (HADS). Outcome variables were gestational length, birth weight, and Apgar scores.

Results: HADS-defined anxiety disorder during pregnancy was associated with lower Apgar score at one minute (score < 8; odds ratio = 2.27; p = .03) and five minutes (score < 8; odds ratio = 4.49; p = .016). No confounders were identified. Anxiety disorder and depression during pregnancy was not associated with low birth weight or preterm delivery. Offspring of non-attendees had a lower birth weight (77 g; t = 3.27; p = 0.001) and a shorter gestational length (1.8 days; t = 2.76; p = 0.006) than that of offspring of attendees, a difference that may be explained by a higher load of psychosocial risk factors among the non-attendees.

Conclusion: In our study that may be biased towards the healthier among pregnant women, anxiety disorder or depression during pregnancy were not strong risk factors for adverse neonatal outcomes although low Apgar score in offspring of women with anxiety disorder may indicate poor neonatal adaptation.