Pregnancy-related anxiety: Evidence of distinct clinical significance from a prospective longitudinal study

Emma Robertson Blackmore, Hanna Gustafsson, Michelle Gilchrist, Claire Wyman, Thomas G. O'Connor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Scopus citations


Background Pregnancy-related anxiety (PrA) has attracted considerable research attention, but questions remain about its distinctiveness from conventional constructs and measures. In a high psychosocial risk, ethnically diverse sample, we examine the degree to which PrA is distinct from continuous and diagnostic measures of anxiety and worry in terms of longitudinal course, associations with psychosocial and perinatal risk, and prediction of postnatal mood disturbance. Methods 345 women oversampled for prenatal anxiety and depression were selected from an urban obstetrics clinic serving a predominantly low-income, ethnically diverse population. PrA was assessed at 20 and 32 weeks gestation; anxiety and depression symptoms were assessed from questionnaire and from clinical interview at 20 and 32 weeks gestation and again at 2 and 6 months postnatally. Data relevant to psychosocial and obstetric risks were ascertained from interview, medical exam, and chart review. Results Two distinct factors of PrA were identified, indexing specific concerns about the child's health and about the birth; these two PrA factors showed distinct longitudinal patterns in the prenatal period, and modest associations with general measures of anxiety and depression from questionnaire and clinical interview. PrA was also distinguished from conventional symptom measures in its associated features and prediction of birth weight and postnatal mood. Limitations The sample was at high psychosocial risk and ethnically diverse; findings may not generalize to other samples. Conclusions PrA can be distinguished from general measures of anxiety in pregnancy in terms of longitudinal course, associated features, and prediction to postnatal mood disturbance, and may warrant specific clinical attention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-258
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016


  • Obstetric outcomes
  • Perinatal
  • Pregnancy related anxiety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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