Birth factors and common mental health problems in young adults

A population-based study in North Staffordshire
  • Christian MallenEmail author
  • Sara Mottram
  • Elaine Thomas



Birth-related factors have been associated with adult chronic disease. Whilst the potential association between these factors and depression in adulthood was been described rather less is known about the role of these exposures in the development of anxiety.


Cross-sectional population-based survey recruited adults aged 18–25 years. Participants were classified on the basis of responses to the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale. Birth-related exposures were determined by hospital medical record review. A proportional odds model was used to assess associations between birth factors and anxiety and depression.


No significant associations were found between birth factors and anxiety. Significant associations were found between depression with low birth weight (odds ratio 2.88, 95% confidence interval 1.26–6.59) and neonatal admission to ITU (3.12, 1.25, 7.78).


Low birth weight and neonatal intensive care unit admission are significantly associated with depression in adults. Other birth related variables were not significantly associated with either depression or anxiety.

Key words

anxiety depression birth young adults 



The authors would like to thank the practices and patients who participated in this study. We would also like to thank the Primary Care Musculoskeletal Research Centre Administration team and the Keele GP Research Partnership Team for their help. Special thanks are extended to Dr George Peat and Professor Peter Croft for their help in designing the study and for comments earlier drafts of this article. An Arthritis Research Campaign Primary Care Fellowship funds Dr. Christian Mallen.

Conflict of interest statement

CM and ET were involved in the conception, design and conduct of the study. All authors contributed to the analysis and drafting of the article. All authors approved the final draft. All authors declare they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Primary Care Musculoskeletal Research CentreKeele UniversityKeeleUK

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