Long-term follow-up of psychosocial distress after early onset preeclampsia: The Preeclampsia Risk EValuation in FEMales cohort study

P.M.C. Mommersteeg, J.T. Drost, J.P. Ottervanger, A.H.E.M. Maas

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To examine long-term psychosocial distress in women with a history of early onset preeclampsia (PE) compared to a comparison group.
Women with and without a history of early onset PE participating in the ‘Preeclampsia Risk EValuation in FEMales’ (PREVFEM) study were sent questionnaires, on average 14.1 years (SD = 3.2, range 5–23 years) after the index pregnancy. In total 265 (77%) women with PE and 268 (78%) age-matched women without PE returned questionnaires (mean age 43.5, SD =4.6 years). Group differences were examined on indicators of psychosocial distress, depressive symptoms, anxiety, fatigue, loneliness, marital quality, trait optimism and Type D personality, and unadjusted and adjusted for a priori chosen and study-specific covariates. In secondary analyses, the effect of previously detected hypertension was examined, as well as pregnancy-related events within the PE group.
Women with a history of PE reported more subsequent depressive symptoms (B = 0.70, 95% CI 0.09–1.32, p = 0.026) and more fatigue (B = 1.12, 95% CI 0.07–2.18, p = 0.037) compared to the non-PE group, but the differences explained less than 1% of the variance. The differences remained after adjustment for age, BMI and education level, and additional adjustment for partner, being unemployed and physical activity. No significant differences were observed for anxiety, loneliness, marital quality, optimism, or Type D personality. These differences were not explained by four-year previously measured elevated blood pressure in the PE group. Having had a stillborn child or early neonatal death during the index pregnancy was associated with higher depressive symptoms, anxiety, fatigue, and loneliness in the PE group, but these factors explained only a small proportion of the variance in these psychosocial distress factors.
A history of early PE is associated with slightly higher levels of depressive symptoms and fatigue on average 14 years later, but this is unlikely to be of clinical relevance.
Keywords: Depressive symptoms, hypertension, longitudinal, preeclampsia, psychosocial distress
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-109
JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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