Posttraumatic stress disorder and pregnancy complications

Julia S. Seng, Deborah J. Oakley, Carolyn M. Sampselle, Cheryl Killion, Sandra Graham-Bermann, Israel Liberzon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

158 Scopus citations


Objective: To assess the associations between specific pregnancy complications and posttraumatic stress disorder based on neurobiologic and behavioral characteristics, using Michigan Medicaid claims data from 1994-1996. Methods: Two thousand, two hundred nineteen female recipients of Michigan Medicaid who were of childbearing age had posttraumatic stress disorder on the basis of International Classification of Diseases, 9th Revision (ICD-9) codes. Twenty percent (n = 455) of those recipients and 30% of randomly selected comparison women with no mental health diagnostic codes (n = 638; P < .001) had ICD-9 diagnostic codes for pregnancy complications. We used multiple logistic regression to investigate associations between specific pregnancy complications and posttraumatic stress disorder, controlling for demographic and psychosocial variables. Obstetric complications were hypothesized based on high-risk behaviors and neurobiologic alterations in stress axis function in posttraumatic stress disorder. Results: After controlling for demographic and psychosocial factors, women with posttraumatic stress disorder had higher odds ratios (ORs) for ectopic pregnancy (OR 1.7, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.1, 2.8), spontaneous abortion (OR 1.9, 95% CI 1.3, 2.9), hyperemesis (OR 3.9, 95% CI 2.0, 7.4), preterm contractions (OR 1.4, 95% CI 1.1, 1.9), and excessive fetal growth (OR 1.5, 95% CI 1.0, 2.2). Hypothesized labor differences were not confirmed and no differences were found for complications not thought to be related to traumatic stress. Conclusions: Pregnant women with posttraumatic stress disorder might be at higher risk for certain conditions, and assessment and treatment for undiagnosed posttraumatic stress might be warranted for women with those obstetric complications. Prospective studies are needed to confirm present findings and to determine potential biologic mechanisms. Treatment of traumatic stress symptoms might improve pregnancy morbidity and maternal mental health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-22
Number of pages6
JournalObstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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