Severe fear of childbirth does not affect neonatal outcomes

  • O'Connell MA & al.
  • J Psychosom Res
  • 1 May 2019

  • International Clinical Digest
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Takeaway

  • Severe fear of childbirth is uncommon and does not appear to increase risk for pregnancy complications.

Why this matters

  • It has been estimated that up to 14% of pregnant women experience severe fear of childbirth worldwide.
  • Fear of childbirth is a DSM-5 diagnosis; the Wijma Delivery Experience Questionnaire Part A (W-DEQ A) (cutoff >85) is used to diagnose fear of childbirth with 100% sensitivity.
  • Chronic stress has been associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes and other health issues.

Key results

  • 4.6% of population diagnosed with severe fear of childbirth.
  • No difference in epidural use, induction of labor, or cesarean delivery between groups.
  • No difference in birth weight between groups.

Study design

  • Prospective cohort study.
  • Cohort identified from the Finnish Medical Birth Register.
  • Pregnancy outcomes of women diagnosed with severe fear of childbirth using a W-DEQ A score ≥85 (n=18) were compared with women with lower scores (W-DEQ A ≥66, n=103; W-DEQ A ≤65, n=268).
  • Funding: None.

Limitations

  • Small study population; not adequately powered.
  • Results may not be generalizable due to use of a convenience sample.

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