Postpartum Anxiety Prevalence, Predictors and Effects on Child Development: A Review

Author(s): Tiffany Field

This narrative review of the literature was derived from a search for 2010-2017 publications on postpartum anxiety and postnatal anxiety on the PubMed and PsycINFO databases. Approximately two thirds of the papers are focused on the prevalence/incidence, onset and course of postnatal anxiety. The other third are almost equally distributed across correlates/risk factors and effects/outcomes, and only a few studies are focused on interventions/treatments. Based on the recent literature, the prevalence of postpartum anxiety has widely ranged from 13 to 40%. The demographic risk factors for postnatal anxiety include being a young mother, having more education and being employed. Childbirth risk factors include being primiparous in one sample and multiparous in another, cesarean delivery, fear of the birth and of death during delivery, lack of control during labor, low self-confidence for the delivery and the delivery staff, and premature delivery. Social support problems include the lack of family support, marital/family conflict, and social health issues. Psychiatric history risk factors include prenatal depression and anxiety. Postnatal anxiety has negative effects on breast-feeding, bonding, mother–infant interactions, and infant temperament, sleep, mental development, health and internalizing behavior and on conduct disorder in adolescents. Unfortunately, only six postnatal anxiety intervention studies could be found including paternal education, music therapy during labor, mothers massaging their infants, cognitive behavior therapy and administering oxytocin.

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