Who Worries That Something Might Be Wrong With the Baby? A Prospective Study of 1072 Pregnant Women


Helen Statham Centre for Family Research, Free School Lane, Cambridge CB2 3RF, United Kingdom



Little is known about the normal range and pattern of pregnant women's worry about something being wrong with the baby, or how this relates to other factors. The objective of this study was to examine the extent to which women are worried about the possibility of something being wrong with the baby relative to other worries they may have, and to determine whether demographic, experiential, attitudinal, and personality characteristics are associated with this worry.


Longitudinal data were collected from 1072 pregnant women who completed postal questionnaires at 16, 22, and 35 weeks of pregnancy. Multivariate statistical techniques were used to determine which variables were independently related to worry about the baby.


Worry that something might be wrong with the baby was one of the most prevalent worries at 16 weeks, although not as widespread a source of extreme worry as miscarriage or giving birth. Worry dropped in midpregnancy but rose again at 35 weeks. The most important factors related to this worry were perceived likelihood that something might be wrong with the baby and trait anxiety, although negative mood, previous pregnancy outcomes, and initial reactions to the current pregnancy all demonstrated significant, independent effects.


Women who answered “Don't know” to “Have you any reason to think that your baby might be more likely than any other to have some sort of a problem?” had consistently high anxiety throughout pregnancy. We suggest that this question be asked routinely in early pregnancy to identify these potential worries and, it is to be hoped, reassure them at an early stage. (BIRTH 24:4, December 1997)