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Abuse as a risk factor for prenatal depressive symptoms: a meta-analysis

  • Amanda L. Shamblaw
  • Robyn E. Cardy
  • Eric Prost
  • Kate L. Harkness
Review Article

Abstract

Depression is the most common mental disorder in pregnancy. An important risk factor in the development of prenatal depression is lifetime history of abuse. The current review quantitatively synthesized research on the association between history of abuse and prenatal depressive symptoms using a meta-analytic technique. A total of 3322 articles were identified through electronic searches of the following databases: PsycINFO, PubMed, CINAHL, and EMBASE Cochrane Collaboration databases between the years of 1980 and 2016. All were independently screened against the following inclusion criteria: articles reporting on original data that included measures of prenatal depression and abuse. Data were extracted by the first and second authors. Descriptive analyses were conducted using Excel version 15.32, and all analyses involving effect sizes were conducted using comprehensive meta-analysis (CMA) version 3.0. Seventy articles met the inclusion criteria and were included in the meta-analyses. Meta-bias detected no publication bias. Abuse had a significant positive relation with prenatal depressive symptoms, with effect sizes in the moderate range for any abuse (\( \overline{r} \) = 0.287), physical abuse (\( \overline{r} \) = 0.271), sexual abuse (\( \overline{r} \) = 0.259), and emotional abuse (\( \overline{r} \) = 0.340; Cohen 1969. Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences. Academic Press, New York). The meta-analyses found a robust relation between abuse and prenatal depressive symptoms holding across a variety of demographic and study design characteristics. These results reinforce the established association between trauma victimization and subsequent psychopathology, extending current knowledge to specifically address the under-studied area of prenatal depression. These findings highlight the need for women who have survived child or adulthood abuse to receive appropriate referral and psychological treatment to mitigate their risk for prenatal depression.

Keywords

Pregnancy Prenatal Depression Depressive symptoms Abuse Intimate partner violence 

Notes

Funding

The current study was funded by a grant from the Psychiatry Department at Queen’s University awarded to E. Prost.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Amanda L. Shamblaw declares that she has no conflict of interest. Robyn E. Cardy declares that she has no conflict of interest. Eric Prost declares that he has no conflict of interest. Kate L. Harkness declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed consent

This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.

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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada

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