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First trimester antenatal depression and anxiety: prevalence and associated factors in an urban population in Soweto, South Africa

  • S. Redinger (a1) (a2) (a3), S. A. Norris (a1) (a4), R. M. Pearson (a5), L. Richter (a2) and T. Rochat (a1) (a3) (a6)...

Depression and anxiety in the antenatal period are of public health concern given potential adverse effects for both mother and infant. Both are under-researched in the first trimester of pregnancy, especially in Africa. We examine the prevalence of first trimester antenatal depression and anxiety in a cohort of South African women and investigate associated risk factors. Data were collected from 946 women (2014–2016) in the Soweto First 1000 Days Cohort, a prospective pregnancy cohort in Soweto, South Africa. Antenatal depression was assessed using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale with a score of ⩾13 indicating probable depression. Anxiety was assessed using the short form of the State-Trait Anxiety Index with a score ⩾12 indicating probable anxiety. Prevalence of antenatal depression was 27% [95% confidence interval (CI) 24.2–29.8] and anxiety 15.2% (95% CI 12.9–17.5). Factors associated with antenatal depression and anxiety were predominantly relationship- and family-centred. Women who perceived that their partner made life harder for them had three-fold increased odds for depression [(odds ratio (OR) 3.33 [2.28–4.85] P<0.001], whereas those with family stressors had almost double the odds for depression (OR 1.78 [1.22–2.59] P=0.003) and anxiety (OR 1.75 [1.44–2.69] P=0.0011). Antenatal depression and anxiety are common in the first trimester of pregnancy, and partner and family relationship stressors are central. Longitudinal analysis is needed to determine if this is a phase of adjustment to pregnancy or onset of persistent symptomology. Early intervention may have secondary preventative effects and should involve the partner and family.

Corresponding author
*Address for correspondence: Dr T. Rochat, Human Science Research Council, 5th Floor, The Atrium, 430 Peter Mokaba Ridge Road, Durban 4001, South Africa. (Email
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