Previous psychopathology predicted severe COVID-19 concern, anxiety, and PTSD symptoms in pregnant women during “lockdown” in Italy

Ravaldi C.,
Ricca V.,
Wilson A.,
Homer C.,
Vannacci A.
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Archives of Women's Mental Health


Italy was the first COVID-19 pandemic epicenter among European countries and established a period of full “lockdown”, consisting of travel bans, mandatory staying at home, and temporary closure of nonessential businesses. Similar measures are known risk factors for psychological disturbances in the general population; still, little is known about their impact on pregnant women’s mental health during COVID-19 pandemic. The cross-sectional, web-based, national survey “COVID-19 related Anxiety and StreSs in prEgnancy, poSt-partum and breaStfeeding” (COVID-ASSESS) was conducted during the first month of full “lockdown” in Italy. Participants were recruited via social networks with a snowball technique. The questionnaire was specifically developed to examine COVID-19 concerns and included the psychometric tests National Stressful Events Survey (NSESSS) for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and State-Trait Anxiety Inventory. A multivariable logistic regression model was fitted to explore the association of the concern, anxiety and PTSD symptoms with age, gestational weeks, parity, days of “lockdown”, assisted reproductive technology use, psychopathological history, and previous perinatal losses. Out of 1015 pregnant women reached, 737 (72.6%) fully answered the questionnaire; no woman reported a COVID-19 infection. Median age was 34.4 years [quartiles 31.7, 37.2], median days in “lockdown” were 13.1 [11.0, 17.0], median gestational weeks were 27.8 [19.8, 34.0]. Clinically significant PTSD symptoms were present in 75 women (10.2%, NSESSS cutoff 24) and clinically significant anxiety symptoms were present in 160 women (21.7%, STAI-Y1 cutoff 50). Women were particularly worried about the health of their baby and of their elderly relatives, as well as of the possible impact of pandemic in the future of society. Previous anxiety predicted higher concern and PTSD symptoms; previous depression and anxiety were independently associated with current PTSD symptoms. © 2020, Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature.

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