Anxiety during pregnancy does not negatively impact infant's health

A pregnant woman's feelings of anxiety do not negatively impact the outcome of her pregnancy, according to study published online in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the New York Times reports.

The study -- which reviews data from 50 previous reports that examined pregnant women who experienced anxiety but did not have diagnosed psychiatric conditions, such as panic disorder or generalized anxiety disorder -- examines the association between anxiety during pregnancy and pregnancy outcomes.

The study looks at five outcomes: birthweight, gestational age at delivery, labor length, use of pain medication during labor and Apgar score, which is a test that measures the general health of the infant, according to the study.

The study -- led by Heather Littleton, an assistant professor of psychology at Sam Houston State University -- shows no statistically significant evidence that anxiety negatively affects pregnancy outcomes. Littleton said, "If a woman is experiencing increased anxiety in general or in relation to pregnancy or parenting issues, that worry alone is unlikely to have an impact on the health" of the infant.

The authors added that a woman's anxiety during pregnancy could adversely affect outcomes not evaluated by the researchers (Bakalar, New York Times, 8/15).

Kaisernetwork.orgThis article is republished with kind permission from our friends at the The Kaiser Family Foundation. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery of in-depth coverage of health policy developments, debates and discussions. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. © 2006 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.


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