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J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2010 Jul;19(7):1251-62. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2009.1854.

Psychiatric disorders and treatment in low-income pregnant women.

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College of Nursing, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio 45221, USA.



This study estimated the prevalence of twenty-two 12-month and lifetime psychiatric disorders in a sample of 744 low-income pregnant women and the frequency that women with psychiatric disorders received treatment.


To identify psychiatric disorders, the Diagnostic Interview Schedule (DIS) was administered to Medicaid or Medicaid-eligible pregnant women enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). The sample was stratified by the rural or urban location of the WIC sites in southeastern Missouri and the city of St. Louis. Eligible women were enrolled at each site until their numbers were proportional to the racial distribution of African American and Caucasian pregnant women served there.


The 12-month prevalence of one or more psychiatric disorders was 30.9%. Most common were affective disorders (13.6%), particularly major depressive disorder (8.2%) and bipolar I disorder (5.2%). Only 24.3% of those with a psychiatric disorder reported that they received treatment in the past year. Lifetime prevalence of at least one disorder was 45.6%, with affective disorders being the most frequent (23.5%). Caucasian women were more likely than African Americans to have at least one 12-month disorder, with the difference largely accounted for by nicotine dependence. Higher prevalence of lifetime disorders was also found in Caucasian women, particularly affective disorders and substance use disorders. There were no differences in the prevalence of 12-month or lifetime psychiatric disorders by the urban or rural residence of subjects.


With nearly one third of pregnant women meeting criteria for a 12-month psychiatric disorder and only one fourth receiving any type of mental health treatment, comprehensive psychiatric screening during pregnancy is needed along with appropriate treatment.

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