No Link Between Pregnant Women with Anxiety and Complications During Pregnancy - Anxiety Disorder

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Researchers at the University of Texas say that women who experience anxiety symptoms during pregnancy are not more susceptible to having pregnancy complications such as longer labor or low birth weight babies. Previous research showed mixed results, but this study answers the question more definitively.

Heather Littleton said “Pregnancy can be an emotional time for women and, for some, anxiety associated with the pregnancy can be compounded by pre-existing difficulties such as having an inadequate social support system.” Heather is lead author of the study.

They defined anxiety as having either current levels of anxious symptoms such as tension and worry or a woman’s general tendency to become anxious in stressful situations. The meta-analysis (multiple studies combines) spanned 39 years and included 50 studies of 48 sample groups of women recruited from prenatal clinics and other medical setting.

The researchers did not evaluate anxiety as it relates to pre-eclampsia during pregnancy and having a small weight for gestational age infant. They say more work is necessary to determine if women with “very high levels of anxiety” have similar outcomes.

“This review of the literature clearly shows that additional research is necessary to completely understand how to best treat an anxious pregnant woman,” says Dr. Littleton, “and such work evaluating the mental and physical health of women during pregnancy could help to increase the number of healthy babies that are born.”

The results will be presented at the 114th annual convention of the American Psychological Association (APA).

Dan Wilson

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