Monday, September 04, 2006

Anxiety and Pregnancy

If you have an anxiety disorder like agoraphobia while you are pregnant, does this mean that you are more likely to give birth to an unhealthy baby?

The answer is no - that is, according to a review of available data on this topic conducted by a team at the University Of Texas Medical Branch.

This is good news for pregnant women with agoraphobia or other anxiety disorders.

After reviewing 50 studies from a period of 39 years, the team concluded that there is no relationship between anxiety and pregnancy outcomes. In other words, if you have agoraphobia and are highly anxious during pregnancy, this does not increase your risk of birth complications such as having a low-birth-weight baby or longer labor.

These conclusions were presented recently at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association in New Orleans."Pregnancy can be an emotional time for women and, for some, anxiety associated with the pregnancy can be compounded by pre-existing difficulties such as having an inadequate social support system," said Heather Littleton, the lead author of the team that conducted the literature review.

Even though anxiety didn't show any effect on birth outcomes overall, Littleton and her team members did acknowledge that more research is needed to be sure that their findings apply to people with the highest levels of anxiety, such as people who have been diagnosed with anxiety disorders.

In Littleton's own words, "This review of the literature clearly shows that additional research is necessary to completely understand how to best treat an anxious pregnant woman, and such work evaluating the mental and physical health of women during pregnancy could help to increase the number of healthy babies that are born."

Source: "No Direct Link Between Anxiety, Pregnancy Outcomes Women with symptoms have no increased risk for birth complications, researchers say" by Robert Preidt, Aug. 14 (HealthDay News)

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