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Antenatal anxiety in the first trimester: Risk factors and effects on anxiety and depression in the third trimester and 6-week postpartum

Author(s): Chui Yi Chan | Antoinette Marie Lee | Siu Keung Lam | Chin Peng Lee | Kwok Yin Leung | Yee Woen Koh | Catherine So Kum Tang

Journal: Open Journal of Psychiatry
ISSN 2161-7325

Volume: 03;
Issue: 03;
Start page: 301;
Date: 2013;
Original page

Keywords: Pregnancy | Antenatal Anxiety | Postpartum Anxiety and Depression

Objective: Anxiety is common among pregnant women. However, research attention in the area of reproductive mental health has mainly focused on postpartum depression in past decades. Given adverse outcomes of antenatal anxiety, there is an urgent need to fill the research gaps. The objectives of the present study were to determine the prevalence of antenatal anxiety symptoms and examine the risk factors and effects of anxiety symptoms in early pregnancy on anxiety and depressive symptoms in later pregnancy and early postpartum period. Methodology: A prospective longitudinal design with quantitative approach was adopted. A consecutive sample of 1470 Chinese pregnant women from hospitals in Hong Kong was invited to participate in the study and was assessed using standardized instruments on 3 time points including first and third trimesters of pregnancy and 6-week postpartum. Results: The results showed that 17.7% of pregnant women manifested anxiety symptoms in the first trimester of pregnancy. Single mothers, younger mothers, mothers who smoked before pregnancy and mothers who received low education level reported significantly higher levels of anxiety symptoms in the first trimester. Unwanted pregnancy, low self esteem, low marital satisfaction and perceived low social support were significant psychosocial risk factors for anxiety symptoms in the first trimester. Anxiety symptoms in the first trimester were independent predictors for anxiety symptoms in the third trimester ( QUOTE β= 0.26, t = 5.74, p < 0.001), however anxiety symptoms in the first trimester no longer significantly predicted anxiety and depressive symptoms in 6 weeks postpartum after adjusting for the effects of potential confounders. Discussions: The present study points to the need for greater research and clinical attention to antenatal anxiety given that antenatal anxiety is a prevalent problem and has serious impacts on maternal well-being. Such findings also contribute to the understanding of maternal anxiety and have implications for the design of effective identification, prevention and treatment of these significant clinical problems