HealthDay News — Pregnant women with likely diagnoses of both posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and a major depressive episode are at increased risk of preterm birth, according to research published in JAMA Psychiatry.

Kimberly Ann Yonkers, MD, of the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn., and colleagues assessed the associations of PTSD, major depressive disorder, and antidepressant or anxiolytic treatment, with preterm birth.

The researchers found that recursive partitioning analysis showed high rates of preterm birth among women with PTSD, including women with PTSD who met the criteria for a major depressive episode.

Logistic regression analysis confirmed increased risk of preterm birth among pregnant women who had likely diagnoses of both PTSD and major depressive disorder (odds ratio [OR], 4.08; 95% CI: 1.27-3.15).

The risk of preterm birth was increased among pregnant women who used a serotonin reuptake inhibitor (OR, 1.55; 95% CI: 1.02-2.36) or a benzodiazepine medication (OR, 1.99; 95% CI: 0.98-4.03).

“Women with likely diagnoses of both PTSD and a major depressive episode are at a four-fold increased risk of preterm birth; this risk is greater than, and independent of, antidepressant and benzodiazepine use and is not simply a function of mood or anxiety symptoms,” the researchers wrote.


  1. Yonkers KA et al. JAMA Psychiatry. Published online June 11, 2014. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2014.558

Disclosure: One author disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical companies.