The Price of Pre-adolescent Abuse: Effects of Sexual Abuse on Perinatal Depression and Anxiety

Tanitoluwa Demilade Akinbode, Cort Pedersen, Sandraluz Lara-Cinisomo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Introduction: Childhood abuse is a major public health concern and a risk factor for subsequent poor maternal mental health. This study of 176 racially diverse women explored the associations between the histories of childhood sexual abuse and depression and anxiety during pregnancy, at six weeks postpartum, and 12 weeks postpartum. Methods: Data on depressive and anxiety symptoms were gathered during pregnancy, at six weeks postpartum, and 12 weeks postpartum. Sociodemographic data were collected during pregnancy, while data on childhood sexual abuse were gathered during the 12-week postpartum period. Bivariate analyses and repeated mixed-effects linear regression with bootstrapping were used to assess the association between childhood sexual abuse and perinatal depressive and anxiety symptoms. Results: Childhood sexual abuse was significantly associated with depressive symptoms (β = 2.52, 95% CI 1.72, 3.32, p <.001) and anxiety symptoms (β = 4.44, 95% CI 3.70, 5.81, p <.001) over time, while controlling for demographic characteristics and lifetime major depression and anxiety. Depressive and anxiety symptoms decreased over the perinatal period and were highest during pregnancy. Black women were more likely to report higher depressive symptoms (β = 1.35, 95% CI 0.51, 2.19, p =.002) and anxiety symptoms (β = 3.29 95% CI 1.72, 4.87, p <.001) over time compared to White women. Discussion: The results highlight the importance of assessing the long-term effects of childhood sexual abuse on perinatal depressive and anxiety symptoms to help inform the development of interventions for women, particularly Black women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalMaternal and child health journal
Early online dateNov 18 2020
DOIs
StateE-pub ahead of print - Nov 18 2020

Keywords

  • Childhood abuse
  • Perinatal anxiety
  • Perinatal depression
  • Sexual abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Epidemiology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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