Insomnia late in pregnancy is associated with perinatal anxiety: A longitudinal cohort study

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Background: Postpartum anxiety (PPA) affects a substantial number of women. Despite increasing recognition of PPA, few studies have focused on perinatal anxiety and potential PPA triggers. Here we aimed to estimate the prevalence of perinatal anxiety disorders, and to explore the association between insomnia during late pregnancy and anxiety before and after childbirth. Methods: This study was part of the large population-based Akershus Birth Cohort. We analyzed data from the hospital's birth records and questionnaire responses from pregnancy weeks 17 and 32 and postpartum week 8 (n = 1563). Perinatal anxiety symptoms were measured using the Hopkins Symptom Check List. Anxiety disorder measurements were based on questions from the Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview. Insomnia was measured using the Bergen Insomnia Scale. Results: Among perinatal women, 10% reported symptoms of at least one anxiety disorder. The observed prevalence of obsessive-compulsive disorder was higher after delivery (4.2%) than during pregnancy (2.5%). Multiple regression analysis, with adjustment for several psychosocial and reproductive variables, indicated that insomnia during pregnancy was significantly associated with postpartum anxiety symptoms. However, this association was markedly weakened when depression variables were included in the analysis, indicating that gestational insomnia may also be a marker for a mood disorder. Limitations: Immigrant and single women were underrepresented in our sample. Conclusions: Our results suggest that anxiety disorders are prevalent during the perinatal period. Moreover, insomnia during pregnancy is associated with perinatal anxiety. Health professionals should be aware that women with gestational insomnia may have an increased risk of mood and anxiety disorders.




Osnes, R. S., Roaldset, J. O., Follestad, T., & Eberhard-Gran, M. (2019). Insomnia late in pregnancy is associated with perinatal anxiety: A longitudinal cohort study. Journal of Affective Disorders, 248, 155–165.

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