Exploring posttraumatic stress disorder symptom profile among pregnant women

Julia S. Seng, Sheila A.M. Rauch, Heidi Resnick, Caroline D. Reed, Anthony King, Lisa K. Low, Melnee McPherson, Maria Muzik, James Abelson, Israel Liberzon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is more prevalent in perinatal than general samples of women (68 vs. 45). To explore potential causes, we examined the symptom profiles of women belonging to two separate samples: a perinatal clinic sample (n1581) and a subsample of women in a similar age range from the U. S. National Women's Study (NWS) (n2000). Within the perinatal sample, risk ratios were higher for all 17 PTSD symptoms among women with current PTSD compared with unaffected women, suggesting that higher rates are not likely due to measurement error. The younger age and greater social disadvantage in the perinatal clinic sample contributed only a small proportion of variance in symptom levels compared with extent of trauma exposure and pre-existing PTSD. Compared with the national study sample's symptom profile, the perinatal sample had higher rates of occurrence of five symptoms: detachment, loss of interest, anger and irritability, trouble sleeping, and nightmares. This analysis confirms that PTSD rates are higher in perinatal samples, which is likely due to exacerbation of pre-existing PTSD among women of a younger age and greater social disadvantage. Further elucidation is warranted, including identifying triggers and determining if there are needs for pregnancy-specific interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)176-187
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2010


  • PTSD symptom profile
  • Posttraumatic stress
  • pregnancy
  • prevalence
  • trauma exposure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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