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The prevalence of posttraumatic stress disorder in pregnancy and after birth: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Yildiz, P. D., Ayers, S. & Phillips, L. (2017). The prevalence of posttraumatic stress disorder in pregnancy and after birth: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Affective Disorders, 208, pp. 634-645. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2016.10.009


BACKGROUND: Previous reviews have provided preliminary insights into risk factors and possible prevalence of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) postpartum with no attempt to examine prenatal PTSD. This study aimed to assess the prevalence of PTSD during pregnancy and after birth, and the course of PTSD over this time.

METHODS: PsychINFO, PubMed, Scopus and Web of Science were searched using PTSD terms crossed with perinatal terms. Studies were included if they reported the prevalence of PTSD during pregnancy or after birth using a diagnostic measure.

RESULTS: 59 studies (N =24267) met inclusion criteria: 35 studies of prenatal PTSD and 28 studies of postpartum PTSD (where 4 studies provided prevalence of PTSD in pregnancy and postpartum). In community samples the mean prevalence of prenatal PTSD was 3.3% (95%, CI 2.44-4.54). The majority of postpartum studies measured PTSD in relation to childbirth with a mean prevalence of 4.0% (95%, CI 2.77-5.71) in community samples. Women in high-risk groups were at more risk of PTSD with a mean prevalence of 18.95% (95%, CI 10.62-31.43) in pregnancy and 18.5% (95%, CI 10.6-30.38) after birth. Using clinical interviews was associated with lower prevalence rates in pregnancy and higher prevalence rates postpartum.

LIMITATIONS: Limitations include use of stringent diagnostic criteria, wide variability of PTSD rates, and inadequacy of studies on prenatal PTSD measured in three trimesters.

CONCLUSIONS: PTSD is prevalent during pregnancy and after birth and may increase postpartum if not identified and treated. Assessment and treatment in maternity services is recommended.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2017, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International
Publisher Keywords: Perinatal, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, Prevalence, Pregnancy, Birth, Postpartum
Subjects: R Medicine > RG Gynecology and obstetrics
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Midwifery & Radiography
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Nursing
SWORD Depositor:
[thumbnail of Yildez et al 2016_text copy.pdf]
Text - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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