Preconception personality disorder and antenatal maternal mental health: A population-based cohort study Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND:Prior anxiety and depression have been identified as risk factors for maternal perinatal mental health problems, but other preconception mental disorders have not been prospectively examined. This study investigated prospectively whether women with preconception personality disorder have increased rates of antenatal anxiety and/or depressive symptoms. METHODS:244 women in a population cohort were assessed for personality disorder at age 24 using the Standardised Assessment of Personality. Five to twelve years later, women were screened with the Clinical Interview Schedule, Revised Anxiety Subscale and the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale during the third trimester of 328 pregnancies. RESULTS:Preconception personality disorder was associated with a three-fold increase in the odds of antenatal anxiety symptoms, which remained with adjustment for preconception background factors and preconception common mental disorder (adjusted OR 2.84, 95% CI 1.31-6.15). Preconception personality disorder was associated with doubled odds of antenatal depressive symptoms, however this was attenuated with adjustment for preconception background factors and preconception common mental disorder (adjusted OR 1.98, 95% CI 0.81-4.81). LIMITATIONS:Our findings are restricted to pregnant women aged 29-35 years. Anxiety and depression may have been under-identified because they were assessed at a single antenatal time point. Residual confounding of the associations by preconception common mental disorder at other time points may have occurred. CONCLUSIONS:Women with personality disorder are at heightened risk of anxiety symptoms in pregnancy, over and above risks associated with prior common mental disorder. This raises a possibility that pregnancy brings particular emotional challenges for women with personality disorders.


  • Hudson, C
  • Spry, E
  • Borschmann, R
  • Becker, D
  • Moran, P
  • Olsson, C
  • Coffey, C
  • Romaniuk, H
  • Bayer, JK
  • Patton, GC

publication date

  • 2017