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Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2011 Nov;205(5):402-34. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2011.05.003. Epub 2011 Aug 4.

The use of psychosocial stress scales in preterm birth research.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL, USA.


Psychosocial stress has been identified as a potential risk factor for preterm birth. However, an association has not been found consistently, and a consensus on the extent to which stress and preterm birth are linked is still lacking. A literature search was performed with a combination of keywords and MeSH terms to detect studies of psychosocial stress and preterm birth. Studies were included in the review if psychosocial stress was measured with a standardized, validated instrument and if the outcomes included either preterm birth or low birthweight. Within the 138 studies that met inclusion criteria, 85 different instruments were used. Measures that had been designed specifically for pregnancy were used infrequently, although scales were sometimes modified for the pregnant population. The many different measures that have been used may be a factor that accounts for the inconsistent associations that have been observed.

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