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Shaw JG, Asch SM, Kimerling R, Frayne SM, Shaw KA, Phibbs CS. Posttraumatic stress disorder and risk of spontaneous preterm birth. Obstetrics and gynecology. 2014 Dec 1; 124(6):1111-9.
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the association between antenatal posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and spontaneous preterm delivery. METHODS: We identified antenatal PTSD status and spontaneous preterm delivery in a retrospective cohort of 16,334 deliveries covered by the Veterans Health Administration from 2000 to 2012. We divided mothers with PTSD into those with diagnoses present the year before delivery (active PTSD) and those only with earlier diagnoses (historical PTSD). We identified spontaneous preterm birth and potential confounders including age, race, military deployment, twins, hypertension, substance use, depression, and results of military sexual trauma screening and then performed multivariate regression to estimate adjusted odds ratio (OR) of spontaneous preterm delivery as a function of PTSD status. RESULTS: Of 16,334 births, 3,049 (19%) were to mothers with PTSD diagnoses, of whom 1,921 (12%) had active PTSD. Spontaneous preterm delivery was higher in those with active PTSD (9.2%, n = 176) than those with historical (8.0%, n = 90) or no PTSD (7.4%, n = 982) before adjustment (P = .02). The association between PTSD and preterm birth persisted, when adjusting for covariates, only in those with active PTSD (adjusted OR 1.35, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.14-1.61). Analyses adjusting for comorbid psychiatric and medical diagnoses revealed the association with active PTSD to be robust. CONCLUSION: In this cohort, containing an unprecedented number of PTSD-affected pregnancies, mothers with active PTSD were significantly more likely to suffer spontaneous preterm birth with an attributable two excess preterm births per 100 deliveries (95% CI 1-4). Posttraumatic stress disorder''s health effects may extend, through birth outcomes, into the next generation.