Anxiety is common among pregnant women. However, research attention in the
area of reproductive mental health has mainly focused on postpartum depression
in past decades. Given adverse outcomes of antenatal anxiety, there is an urgent need to fill the research gaps. The objectives of the present study were
to determine the prevalence of antenatal anxiety symptoms and examine the risk
factors and effects of anxiety symptoms in early pregnancy on anxiety and
depressive symptoms in later pregnancy and early postpartum period. Methodology:
A prospective longitudinal design with quantitative approach was adopted. A
consecutive sample of 1470 Chinese pregnant women from hospitals in Hong Kong
was invited to participate in the study and was assessed using standardized
instruments on 3 time points including first and third trimesters of pregnancy
and 6-week postpartum. Results: The results showed that 17.7% of pregnant
women manifested anxiety symptoms in the first trimester of pregnancy. Single
mothers, younger mothers, mothers who smoked before pregnancy and mothers who
received low education level reported significantly higher levels of anxiety
symptoms in the first trimester. Unwanted pregnancy, low self esteem, low marital satisfaction and perceived low social support were significant psychosocial
risk factors for anxiety symptoms in the first trimester. Anxiety symptoms in
the first trimester were independent predictors for anxiety symptoms in the
third trimester ( QUOTEβ= 0.26, t = 5.74, p < 0.001),
however anxiety symptoms in the first trimester no longer significantly
predicted anxiety and depressive symptoms in 6 weeks postpartum after adjusting
for the effects of potential confounders. Discussions: The present study
points to the need for greater research and clinical attention to antenatal
anxiety given that antenatal anxiety is a prevalent problem and has serious
impacts on maternal well-being. Such findings also contribute to the understanding
of maternal anxiety and have implications for the design of effective
identification, prevention and treatment of these significant clinical problems
Cite this paper
Chan, C. , Lee, A. , Lam, S. , Lee, C. , Leung, K. , Koh, Y. and Tang, C. (2013) Antenatal anxiety in the first trimester: Risk factors and effects on anxiety and depression in the third trimester and 6-week postpartum. Open Journal of Psychiatry, 3, 301-310. doi: 10.4236/ojpsych.2013.33030.
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