A novel study suggests that post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a risk aspect for preterm birth and lower birth weight. The US study of more than eight hundred women also found a connection with having a smaller baby. Babies born to women suffering anxiety disorder weighed about half a pound less than normal.
The post traumatic stress disorder should be taken into account in maternity care, explained researchers from the University of Michigan, US. A team led by researcher Julia Seng, Professor of Nursing at the University of Michigan conducted a study. About half of the study participants were African American.
The study participants were divided into three group first included women who had PTSD, second included women who had suffered a traumatic incident but had not developed psychological symptoms and third included women with no major life stressors. They found infants born to women suffering PTSD weighed half a pound less than distressed women who did not develop PTSD.
In addition infants born to women with PTSD were nearly half a pound less than women who did not suffer any trauma. The connection of lower birth weight was most discernible in women suffering PTSD and had been abused in childhood.
An African American baby in Michigan is seventy percent more prone to be born prematurely than an infant of any other race. Therefore PTSD, which is treatable and affects African Americans more widely, may be an additional explanation for adverse prenatal outcomes, explained lead author Julia Seng.
It is essential that outcomes are improved in this high-risk group of women. Maternity care needs to take traumatic stress into account with awareness being lifted up amongst health workers, added Seng. The study was published in the journal BJOG an International Journal of Obstetrics & Gyneacology.
Women with PTSD need specialized care and screening is essential to make sure the best outcome for mother and baby. Raising awareness will help health workers identify those women at risk and provide the relevant support during the antenatal period, sated John Thorp, BJOG deputy-editor-in-chief.