Archives of Women's Mental Health

, Volume 16, Issue 6, pp 435–451 | Cite as

The balance between stress and personal capital during pregnancy and the relationship with adverse obstetric outcomes: findings from the 2007 Los Angeles Mommy and Baby (LAMB) study

  • Fathima WakeelEmail author
  • Lauren E. Wisk
  • Rebekah Gee
  • Shin M. Chao
  • Whitney P. Witt
Original Article


Stress during pregnancy is a salient risk factor for adverse obstetric outcomes. Personal capital during pregnancy, defined as internal and social resources that help women cope with or decrease their exposure to stress, may reduce the risk of poor obstetric outcomes. Using data from the 2007 Los Angeles Mommy and Baby study (N = 3,353), we examined the relationships between the balance of stress and personal capital during pregnancy, or the stress-to-capital ratio (SCR), and adverse obstetric outcomes (i.e., pregnancy complications, preterm birth (PTB), low birth weight (LBW), and small for gestational age (SGA)). Women with a higher SCR (i.e., greater stress relative to personal capital during pregnancy) were significantly more likely to experience at least one pregnancy complication, PTB, and lower gestational age, but not LBW or SGA. Accounting for pregnancy complications completely mediated the association between the SCR and PTB. Our findings indicate that experiencing greater stress relative to personal capital during pregnancy is associated with an increased risk for pregnancy complications, PTB, and lower gestational age and that pregnancy complications may be a mechanism by which the SCR is related to adverse obstetric outcomes.


Personal capital Maternal stress Obstetric outcomes Preterm birth Pregnancy complications 



This project was made possible by the Health Resources and Services Administration grant # R40MC06635, the Los Angeles County Productivity and Investment fund, and the Los Angeles County Department of Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health Programs general grants and was completed in collaboration with 2007 LAMB Principal Investigator M.C. Lu. FW was supported by a grant from the Health Disparities Research Training Program (T32 HD049302; Principal Investigator G. Sarto). LW was supported by a grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (T32 HS000083; Principal Investigator M. Smith). We would like to thank the Los Angeles Mommy and Baby (LAMB) study team (Chandra Higgins, Diana Liu, Marian Eldahaby, Carmen Gutierrez, Yvornia Horton, and Martha Martinez) for their dedicated work in the design and implementation of the 2007 LAMB project. We would also like to thank the Lifecourse Epidemiology and Family Health team for their incredible support with the editing of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fathima Wakeel
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Lauren E. Wisk
    • 2
  • Rebekah Gee
    • 3
  • Shin M. Chao
    • 4
  • Whitney P. Witt
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, School of Medicine and Public HealthUniversity of Wisconsin—MadisonMadisonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Population Health Sciences, School of Medicine and Public HealthUniversity of Wisconsin—MadisonMadisonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Health Policy and Systems Management, School of Public HealthLouisiana State University Health Sciences CenterNew OrleansUSA
  4. 4.Child and Adolescent Health ProgramsLos Angeles County Department of MaternalLos AngelesUSA

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