Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC Irvine

UC Irvine Previously Published Works bannerUC Irvine

Maternal Depressive Symptoms, Perceived Stress, and Fetal Growth



To determine whether longitudinal fetal growth is altered among pregnant women reporting greater perceived stress or more symptoms of depression.


This analysis was based on a multicenter longitudinal study of fetal growth. Women were screened at gestational ages of 8 weeks to 13 weeks 6 days for low-risk status and underwent serial sonographic examinations. At each study visit during pregnancy, women were asked to complete the Cohen Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) and Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Survey (EPDS). Growth curves for estimated fetal weight and individual biometric parameters were created by using linear mixed models with cubic splines and compared on the basis of whether women scored 15 or higher on the PSS or 10 or higher on the EPDS either at the start of or at any time during pregnancy.


Of the 2334 women enrolled in the study, 2088 (89%) and 2108 (90%) completed the PSS and EPDS, respectively, at least once in all trimesters. The longitudinal growth curves of estimated fetal weight as well as all individual biometric parameters were similar (P > .05) regardless of whether the participants reported PSS of 15 or higher or EPDS of 10 or higher in the first trimester or whether these scores persisted throughout the pregnancy. Similarly, effect modification by race/ethnicity was not statistically significant for the biometric parameters under study (P > .05 for all race/ethnicity interactions).


More depressive symptoms and greater perceived stress, as quantified by the EPDS and the PSS, respectively, are not associated with alterations in fetal growth throughout gestation.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View