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Impact of Perinatal Depression and Anxiety on Birth Outcomes: A Retrospective Data Analysis

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During the perinatal period, 10–20% of women experience anxiety and/or depression. Untreated perinatal depression has the potential for adverse effects on the family and infant resulting in long-term deleterious consequences. This study measured the association between self-reported depression using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale scores, self-reported anxiety and neonatal birth outcomes.


A retrospective design was used with ObstetriX™ data retrieved from 16 metropolitan and rural hospitals in NSW, Australia during 2009–2014. Data were available for 53,646 singleton births. The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale was used to identify self-reported depression while women self-reported pregnancy related anxiety. Regression modelling measured the effects of self-reported depression and self-reported pregnancy related anxiety on neonatal birth outcomes. Linear regression and logistic regression were used to model the effect on birth weight, gestational age, admission to NICU or the SCN, outcome (stillborn vs livebirth), and Apgar scores. Cox proportional hazards regression was used to estimate the effect on neonatal length of stay.


Babies born to women self-reporting anxiety were more likely to have birth complications, be admitted to the nursery, had lower Apgar scores and longer hospital stays. Babies born to women self-identifying as experiencing a level of depression were more likely to have a lower birth weight, shorter gestational age, and, lower Apgar score. These babies were more likely to be admitted to the nursery with an increased length of stay.


Perinatal anxiety and depression contribute to poor birth outcomes. Early detection of maternal perinatal anxiety and depression is an important step towards treatment interventions. More research is needed to identify models of care that are effective in identifying and managing perinatal depression and anxiety to improve birth outcomes for women and their babies.

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1. Pilot Grant, Priority Research Centre for Brain & Mental Health, University of Newcastle, Australia.

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Correspondence to Eileen Dowse.

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Dowse, E., Chan, S., Ebert, L. et al. Impact of Perinatal Depression and Anxiety on Birth Outcomes: A Retrospective Data Analysis. Matern Child Health J 24, 718–726 (2020).

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