Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp 403–412 | Cite as

Pregnancy Intendedness, Maternal Psychosocial Factors and Preterm Birth

  • Lynne C. Messer
  • Nancy Dole
  • Jay S. Kaufman
  • David A. Savitz

Objectives: This study examined associations between reported pregnancy intendedness and several maternal psychosocial factors in relation to preterm birth (<37 weeks' completed gestation). Methods: Women were recruited into a prospective cohort study between the 24th and 29th weeks of pregnancy in central North Carolina from 1996 to 2000. Prior to delivery, participants responded to questions about pregnancy intendedness, life events impacts, depressive symptoms, and coping style. Results: Women who reported not intending their pregnancy had increased odds of reporting low, medium and high levels of perceived stress during pregnancy (OR = 1.4 [95% CI: 1.1, 1.9], OR = 2.2 [95% CI: 1.7, 2.8], and OR = 3.4 [95% CI: 2.6, 4.5], respectively, relative to very low), medium and high levels of depressive symptoms (OR = 2.2 [95% CI: 1.8, 2.9] and OR = 3.1 [95% CI: 2.4, 3.9], respectively), and medium and high levels of several coping styles. Reporting not intending the pregnancy was not associated with increased risk of preterm birth (Risk Ratio [RR] = 1.0, 95% CI: 0.8, 1.1), but reporting the highest quartile of perceived stress (RR = 1.6, 95% CI: 1.1, 2.3) and the highest tertile of distancing coping style (compared with lowest quartile) was associated with preterm birth (RR = 1.4, 95% CI: 1.1, 1.9). Interactions between pregnancy intendedness and the psychosocial variables perceived stress, depression or coping style did not modify the psychosocial variable's associations with preterm birth. Conclusions: Pregnancy intendedness remains an important concept in the reproductive health literature integrally tied to indicators of maternal mental health, but not necessarily to pregnancy outcomes.


pregnancy intendedness preterm birth perceived stress depressive symptoms coping style psychosocial attributes 



Funding sources for this work include the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health (Grants HD28684, HD28684A), the Association of Schools of Public Health/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (cooperative agreements S455-16/17, S0807-18/20), the Wake Area Health Education Center in Raleigh, NC and the National Institutes of Health, General Clinical Research Centers program of the Division of Research Resources (Grant RR00046).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lynne C. Messer
    • 1
    • 3
  • Nancy Dole
    • 2
  • Jay S. Kaufman
    • 1
    • 2
  • David A. Savitz
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.USEPA/NHEERL Human Studies Division MD 58AResearch Triangle ParkUSA
  2. 2.Carolina Population CenterUniversity of North CarolinaChapel HillUSA
  3. 3.USEPA/NHEERL Human Studies Division MD 58AResearch Triangle ParkUSA

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