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Depression Tied to Decreased Gestational Age, Birth Weight

Last Updated: December 09, 2010.

Pregnant women with depressive symptoms may give birth earlier and to lower-birth-weight offspring than those without depressive symptoms, according to a study published in the December issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

THURSDAY, Dec. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Pregnant women with depressive symptoms may give birth earlier and to lower-birth-weight offspring than those without depressive symptoms, according to a study published in the December issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Aimée E. van Dijk, of the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, and colleagues explored a possible tie between pregnant women with depressive symptoms and low serum folate levels and gestational age and birth weight of their offspring. They followed the pregnancies and outcomes of 4,044 women as part of the Amsterdam Born Children and their Development study. Participants had their blood tested for serum folate on their first obstetric visit (median gestational age, 14 weeks) and filled out a questionnaire that evaluated the presence and severity of depressive symptoms. Researchers obtained birth weight and gestational age data from the Youth Health Care Registration and the Dutch Perinatal Registration.

The investigators found that the offspring of women with major depressive symptoms had a gestation of 0.2 weeks shorter. The combination of depressive symptoms and low serum folate status, present in 7.6 percent of the women, was associated with the shortest gestational age (38.6 weeks) and lowest birth weight (3,270 g), but the adjusted data found no significant interaction.

"Depressive symptoms were associated with shorter gestational age and related lower birth weight. The risk of shorter gestation seems to be especially present in women with a combination of depressive symptoms and a low folate status, but the interaction was not significant. This still underlines the importance of adequate folic acid intake for this group of women," the authors write.

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