0738 GMT March 19, 2019
According to Health Day, researchers examined more than 16,000 births involving female US military veterans between 2000 and 2012, and found that having PTSD in the year before delivery increased the risk of spontaneous premature birth by 35 percent.
In spontaneous premature birth, the mother goes into labor and delivers her baby more than three weeks early. These types of births typically account for about six deliveries for every 100 births, according to the researchers.
The study found that recent PTSD is associated with about two additional premature births for every 100 deliveries. Due to the design of the study, the researchers were only able to find an association between PTSD and premature birth. They couldn't prove that PTSD was the cause of the earlier deliveries.
Overall, there are about 12 premature births per 100 deliveries. Some of these occur due to medical problems involving the mother or baby, rather than because of spontaneous labor, according to the researchers.
"This study gives us a convincing epidemiological basis to say that, yes, PTSD is a risk factor for preterm delivery," study senior author Ciaran Phibbs, associate professor of pediatrics and an investigator at at Stanford University, said.
"Mothers with PTSD should be treated as having high-risk pregnancies," Phibbs added.