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Last Updated: Oct 11, 2012 - 10:22:56 PM
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Anxious women more likely to have smaller babies

Nov 4, 2009 - 12:13:43 PM
'It is key to pursue further research which addresses interventions to ameliorate the effects that a woman's trait anxiety has on the development of foetuses,' they said.

Main results
In regression models, trait anxiety at the second and third trimesters predicted lower birthweight and shorter birth length, controlling for confounders. Anxiety reported at the third trimester predicted shortened gestational age, controlling for confounders. At the first and second trimesters, the relationship of birthweight and birth length to maternal trait anxiety was only significant for severe anxiety. Women whose anxiety reached severe levels for at least two trimesters were significantly more likely to deliver offspring of lower birthweight and shorter birth length than those women who reported severe anxiety at none or only one of the trimesters. Additionally, offspring of women who experienced severe anxiety during all three trimesters had shorter mean gestational age than offspring of women who did not report severe anxiety at any trimester. Women who report chronic, severe trait anxiety are at the highest risk of having shorter gestations and delivering smaller babies.
[RxPG] Women with severe and chronic anxiety during pregnancy are more likely to have smaller babies, says a new study.

The study authors demonstrated that the mother's anxiety during pregnancy impacts birth outcomes, including smaller babies, over and beyond factors such as drug use, education, and race.

Low to moderate levels of anxiety in women during either the first or second trimester did not significantly affect the birth outcomes, but women who are severely anxious during much of their pregnancy should be considered for anxiety-reducing interventions.

Shahla M. Hosseini of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre, co-authored the study with Minhnoi W. Biglan, Cynthia Larkby, Maria M. Brooks, Michael B. Gorin, and Nancy L. Day.

'One way to prevent health problems in children and adults is to focus care on the prenatal period,' the authors note.

'It is key to pursue further research which addresses interventions to ameliorate the effects that a woman's trait anxiety has on the development of foetuses,' they said.

The study was published in Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology.

DOI of the scientific paper: 10.1111/j.1365-3016.2009.01065.x 
On the web: Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology 

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