Moderate antenatal anxiety symptoms and birth outcomes of boys and girls

Marsha Kaitz*, David Mankuta, Ann Marie Rokem, Stephen V. Faraone

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Women's antenatal anxiety, especially if paired with significant life stressors or comorbid physical or mental health disorders, can predict adverse birth outcomes, defined in terms of birth weight, gestational age at birth and obstetric complications. Here, we tested for an impact of moderate anxiety symptoms on these outcomes because many women experience these kinds of symptoms during pregnancy, and even subtle differences in birth outcomes can have significant effects on children's development. We also tested for moderation of anxiety effects by infant gender. The sample comprised 219 women with anxiety symptoms ranging from none to moderate levels on the Beck Anxiety Inventory. Multivariate models estimated main effects of Group (no/minimal versus moderate symptoms) and interactions between Group and infant Gender. Results indicate that moderate anxiety predicted more obstetric complications, particularly among mothers of daughters. Results also demonstrate a Group x Gender interaction on BW, indicating that sons of anxious mothers weighed more than sons of controls; whereas, daughters of anxious mothers weighed less than daughters of controls. These findings show that moderate anxiety symptoms may affect some birth outcomes, and differently for males and females.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)116-123
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Informa UK Ltd.


  • Antenatal anxiety
  • Birth outcomes
  • Fetal programming
  • Fetus
  • Gender


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