Objectives: To evaluate the impact of psychosocial stress during pregnancy on infant health outcomes in the first postnatal year. Methods: A sample of 3000 women completed a stress inventory (the Psychosocial Hassles Scale) during their third trimester before first childbirth. Infant health outcomes were measured via maternal report at 1, 6 and 12 months postpartum. Poisson regression was used to model the effect of maternal stress during pregnancy on infant health outcomes in the first year, controlling for age, race/ethnicity, education, insurance coverage, marital status, and cigarette smoking during pregnancy. Results: Women who were younger, minority, unmarried, publicly insured and without a college degree were more likely to report high levels of prenatal stress. High prenatal stress was a significant predictor of maternal reporting of gastrointestinal illness (p < 0.0001), respiratory illness (p = 0.025), and total illness in the first year (p < 0.0001). High prenatal stress was also a significant predictor of urgent care visits (p < 0.0001) and emergency department visits (p = 0.001). It was not a significant predictor of hospitalizations (p = 0.36). Conclusions: Maternal prenatal stress is associated with increased maternal reporting of infant illness, as well as increased frequency of both urgent care visits and emergency department visits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2587-2597
Number of pages11
JournalMaternal and child health journal
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Epidemiology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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