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Keywords:

  • African American;
  • pregnancy;
  • psychosocial risk

Objective

Screening for psychosocial and behavioural risks, such as depression, intimate partner violence, and smoking, during pregnancy is considered to be state of the art in prenatal care. This prospective longitudinal analysis examines the added benefit of repeated screening, compared with a single screening, in identifying such risks during pregnancy.

Design

Data were collected as part of a randomised controlled trial to address intimate partner violence, depression, smoking, and environmental tobacco smoke exposure in African American women.

Setting

Prenatal care sites in the District of Columbia serving mainly women of minority background.

Population

A cohort of 1044 African American pregnant women in the District of Columbia.

Methods

Mothers were classified by their initial response (acknowledgement of risks), and these data were updated during pregnancy. Risks were considered new if they were not previously reported. Standard hypothesis tests and logistic regression were used to predict the acknowledgment of any new risk(s) during pregnancy.

Main outcome measures

New risks: psychosocial variables to understand what factors might help identify the acknowledgement of additional risk(s).

Results

Repeated screening identified more mothers acknowledging risk over time. Reported smoking increased by 11%, environmental tobacco smoke exposure increased by 19%, intimate partner violence increased by 9%, and depression increased by 20%. The psychosocial variables collected at the baseline that were entered into the logistic regression model included relationship status, education, Medicaid, illicit drug use, and alcohol use during pregnancy. Among these, only education less than high school was associated with the acknowledgement of new risk in the bivariate analyses, and significantly predicted the identification of new risks (OR 1.39, 95% CI 1.01–1.90).

Conclusions

It is difficult to predict early on who will acknowledge new risks over the course of pregnancy, and thus all women should be screened repeatedly to allow for the identification of risks and intervention during prenatal care.