Postnatal anxiety prevalence, predictors and effects on development: A narrative review

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68 Scopus citations


The increasing prevalence of postnatal anxiety highlights the need for summarizing the recent research on this condition to inform screening and intervention efforts. This narrative review of the literature was derived from a search on PubMed and PsycINFO for papers published since 2010. The demographic risk factors for postnatal anxiety include being a young mother, having more education and being employed. Childbirth risk factors include being primiparous in one sample and multiparous in another, caesarean delivery, fear of the birth and of death during delivery, lack of control during labor, low self-confidence for the delivery and the delivery staff, and premature delivery. Social support problems include the lack of family support, marital/family conflict, and social health issues. Psychiatric history risk factors include prenatal depression and anxiety. Postnatal anxiety has negative effects on breast-feeding, bonding, mother–infant interactions, infant temperament, sleep, mental development, health and internalizing behavior and on conduct disorder in adolescents. Unfortunately, only six postnatal anxiety intervention studies could be found including paternal education, music therapy during labor, mothers massaging their infants, cognitive behavior therapy and administering oxytocin. The negative effects of postnatal anxiety and the limitations of the research in this review highlight the need for further research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)24-32
Number of pages9
JournalInfant Behavior and Development
StatePublished - May 1 2018


  • Postpartum anxiety prevalence
  • Predictors and effects on child development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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