HealthDay News — Antenatal COVID-19-related stress is significantly associated with poor postpartum maternal mental health outcomes, according to a study published online March 14 in JAMA Network Open.
Susanne Schweizer, Ph.D., from University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, and colleagues examined the association of antenatal COVID-19-related stress with postpartum maternal mental health and infant outcomes in women from the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia. The analysis included 318 participants who reported being pregnant between May 5 and Sept. 30, 2020, and completed follow-up to Oct. 28, 2021, to April 24, 2022.
The researchers found that antenatal COVID-19-related stress was significantly associated with maternal postpartum distress (β = 0.40), depression (β = 0.32), and generalized anxiety (β = 0.35). Additionally, antenatal COVID-19-related stress was associated with infant negative affectivity (β = 0.45). The findings persisted during sensitivity analyses.
“A research agenda needs to be outlined to track the longer-term associations of COVID-19-related stress with maternal and infant outcomes. There is a particular need to identify biological and psychological markers of vulnerability in this population to tailor antenatal care approaches,” the authors write. “Pregnant individuals should be classified as a vulnerable group during pandemics as these results show, especially in terms of mental health.”