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Matern Child Health J. 2011 Oct;15(7):1046-54. doi: 10.1007/s10995-010-0649-9.

The influence of prenatal trauma, stress, social support, and years of residency in the US on postpartum maternal health status among low-income Latinas.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, CA, USA.


This study examined the associations of prenatal psychosocial factors, including depressive symptoms, post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, trauma exposure including intimate partner violence, perceived stress, and social support, with perceived postpartum health status. Low-income Latinas (N = 203) were recruited from two health plans within the first 12 weeks of their pregnancies and followed through 3 months after birth. Participants completed semi-structured interviews conducted in English or Spanish within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, and again at 12 weeks postpartum. Perceived health status was measured by the SF-12. Participants with complete follow-up data (n= 193) were used in data analysis. Women were mostly foreign-born (75%) with low-incomes (59%) and reported postpartum health status in the average range (M = 102.5; SD = 12.2). Overall health status was positively associated with decreased levels of perceived stress (P < .0001), being foreign-born and having resided in the US <10 years (P = .003). Emotional well-being was positively linked with being foreign-born and having resided in the US <10 years (P = .002), increased levels of social support (P = .01), and decreased levels of perceived stress (P < .001). Exposure to non-specific IPV trauma (P = .01) and health problems experienced during pregnancy or delivery (P = .05) were negatively associated with physical health status. Prenatal psychosocial factors and length of residency in the US are differentially predictive of overall postpartum health status and emotional well-being, and have less impact on physical well-being after birth. Health professionals are encouraged to assess these factors in early pregnancy.

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