June 16, 2014 — Pregnant women presenting for care with symptoms of both post-traumatic stress disorder and major depressive disorder were four times more likely than women without such symptoms to deliver preterm, according to a new study in JAMA Psychiatry, MedPage Today's "The Gupta Guide" reports.
The study involved 2,654 women treated between March 2005 and May 2009. The researchers classified women who met the criteria for a psychiatric disorder at any point during their pregnancy as testing positive for that disorder. They also analyzed the effect of the symptoms and recorded preterm birth patterns.
The researchers found that the 51 women who presented with symptoms of both PTSD and major depressive disorder had a risk of preterm birth that "was nearly as high as the risk conferred by having had a previous preterm birth."
According to the study, women who had a previous preterm birth, as well as those presenting with symptoms of PTSD but not depression, had a higher risk of preterm delivery than women without those conditions. Women taking antidepressants also had an increased risk of preterm birth compared with women who were not.
However, the researchers found that the increased risk of preterm birth among women with both PTSD and depression symptoms was "greater than, and independent of" the increased preterm birth risk associated with taking medications for either condition (Brown, "The Gupta Guide," MedPage Today, 6/12).