"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Study links premature births to poor mental health of the mother

August 15, 2023 – Women with mental health problems are 50% more likely to present birth prematurely, in line with a brand new study of two million pregnancies in England.

According to the researchers, about one in 10 women who used mental health services had a preterm birth, while one in 15 women who didn't use mental health services had a preterm birth.

The study was published in The Lancet Psychiatryfound an association between the severity of psychological problems and hostile birth outcomes.

Women who had been in a psychiatric hospital were almost twice as more likely to have a preterm birth as women who had no contact with psychiatric services.

Women with a history of mental health problems were also more likely to present birth to a baby that was too small for its gestational age. The guard reported – 75 per 1,000 births in comparison with 56 per 1,000 births.

Researchers said pregnant women should receive a psychiatric assessment as soon as possible. This could reduce the variety of maternal deaths, stillbirths, premature births and low-birth weight babies, said Louise Howard, PhD, professor of girls's mental health at King's College London The guard.

“Maternity professionals focus on other modifiable risk factors such as smoking and obesity, but may not have considered some of the additional risks that women with mental illness may face,” she said.

“Mental illness itself is probably linked to some of these negative outcomes because it affects the stress system and is therefore likely to cause problems,” Howard said. “But it is also linked to other factors. If you are mentally ill, you are more likely to smoke because you feel stressed. It is similar with substance abuse. And there are other stressors like domestic violence, childhood abuse or poverty.”