Saturday, November 29, 2014
Posttraumatic stress disorder and preterm birth
Many women who serve in the military suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It can also occur as a result of a traumatic experience, such as rape or a terrorist attack, in civilian life. A number of women who suffer from PTSD become pregnant. A new study examined the effect of PTSD on pregnancy. The study was published in the December edition of the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology by researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine and the Department of Veterans Affairs, Palo Alto Health Care System.
The study authors note that preterm birth is a leading cause of infant morbidity (adverse health conditions) and mortality in the US; 12% of deliveries are preterm, and approximately half occur spontaneously rather than a result of a medical indication. A number of risk factors for spontaneous preterm birth have been positively identified, including demographic characteristics, substance abuse, and multiple pregnancies, the cause remains poorly understood. Over the past two decades, little progress has been made in reducing the incidence of preterm birth. An increasing number of studies have suggested a role for psychosocial factors such as maternal stress and depression; however, the effect of PTSD remains unclear.