2022-07-22Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.3389/fpsyt.2022.842410
Prospective Associations of Lifetime Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and Birth-Related Traumatization With Maternal and Infant Outcomes
Objective: Many women experience traumatic events already prior to or during pregnancy, and delivery of a child may also be perceived as a traumatic event, especially in women with prior post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Birth-related PTSD might be unique in several ways, and it seems important to distinguish between lifetime PTSD and birth-related traumatization in order to examine specific consequences for mother and child. This post-hoc analysis aims to prospectively examine the relation of both, lifetime PTSD (with/without interpersonal trauma) and birth-related traumatization (with/without postpartum depression) with specific maternal and infant outcomes. Methods: In the prospective-longitudinal Maternal in Relation to Infants' Development (MARI) study, N = 306 women were repeatedly assessed across the peripartum period. Maternal lifetime PTSD and birth-related traumatization were assessed with the Composite International Diagnostic Interview for women. Maternal health during the peripartum period (incl. birth experience, breastfeeding, anxiety, and depression) and infant outcomes (e.g., gestational age, birth weight, neuropsychological development, and regulatory disorders) were assessed via standardized diagnostic interviews, questionnaires, medical records, and standardized observations. Results: A history of lifetime PTSD prior to or during pregnancy was reported by 25 women who indicated a less favorable psycho-social situation (lower educational level, less social support, a higher rate of nicotine consumption during pregnancy). Lifetime PTSD was associated with pregnancy-related anxieties, traumatic birth experience, and anxiety and depressive disorders after delivery (and in case of interpersonal trauma additionally associated with infant feeding disorder). Compared to the reference group, women with birth-related traumatization (N = 35) indicated numerous adverse maternal and infant outcomes (e.g., child-related fears, sexual problems, impaired bonding). Birth-related traumatization and postpartum depression was additionally associated with infant feeding and sleeping problems. Conclusion: Findings suggest that both lifetime PTSD and birth-related traumatization are important for maternal and infant health outcomes across the peripartum period. Larger prospective studies are warranted. Implications: Women with lifetime PTSD and/or birth related traumatization should be closely monitored and supported. They may benefit from early targeted interventions to prevent traumatic birth experience, an escalation of psychopathology during the peripartum period, and adverse infant outcomes, which in turn may prevent transgenerational transmission of trauma in the long term.