Many women vets report adverse pregnancy outcomes, postpartum mental health problems after leaving military service

April 15, 2020

(Boston)--Women Veterans with more symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or moral injury (guilt, shame or demoralization in response to participating in or witnessing events that violate one's sense of right and wrong), are at greater risk for negative pregnancy outcomes and postpartum depression in the three years following discharge from military service.

The number of women in the military and associated veteran population continues to grow with the largest increases observed among women of child-bearing age.

More than 9,500 Veterans were enrolled in a study approximately three months following their discharge from the service. Every six months they completed surveys which included questions about current pregnancies and outcomes. A total of 318 women Veterans experienced a pregnancy in the three years following separation from military service.

The researchers found one in two women veterans (50 percent) who became pregnant during the study period experienced a negative pregnancy outcome. In addition, the proportion of women who reported experiencing other adverse outcomes were as follows:According to the researchers, the finding that PTSD and moral injury increase risk for these outcomes suggests that screening for these conditions is important. "Although depression screening has become more common in obstetric settings due to recommendations made by the U.S. Preventative Service Task Force, it is unlikely that screening for PTSD and moral injury are universally being conducted in these settings," explained leas author Yael I. Nillni, PhD, Clinical Research Psychologist in the National Center for PTSD, Women's Health Sciences Division at VA Boston Healthcare System and assistant professor of psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine.

While screening for PTSD is common in VA medical centers, screening for PTSD in OB/GYN clinics in the community is not a widespread or common practice. "Given that many women veterans currently receive obstetric care outside of the VA, increased awareness of the impact of PTSD and moral injury on perinatal outcomes is imperative to improve screening during this sensitive time and connect at-risk veterans to services."
-end-
These findings appear online in the Journal of Traumatic Stress.

This research was managed by the Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine, Inc. (HJF); and collaboratively sponsored by the Bob Woodruff Foundation, Health Net Federal Services, The Heinz Endowments, HJF, Lockheed Martin Corporation, National Endowment for the Humanities, Northrop Grumman, Philip and Marge Odeen, Prudential, Robert R. McCormick Foundation, Rumsfeld Foundation, Schultz Family Foundation, Walmart Foundation, Wounded Warrior Project, Inc., and the Veterans Health Administration Health Services Research and Development Service.

Boston University School of Medicine

Related Pregnancy Articles from Brightsurf:

COVID-19 has a prolonged effect for many during pregnancy
Symptoms for pregnant women with COVID-19 can be prolonged, lasting two months or longer for a quarter of the women who participated in a national study led by UC San Francisco and UCLA.

Relaxed through pregnancy
A group of researchers from Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin have been able to show that maternal psychological wellbeing during pregnancy has a positive effect on newborn infants.

Trajectories of antidepressant medication use during pregnancy
In an analysis of women who started pregnancy when taking antidepressant medications, investigators identified three trajectories of antidepressant dispensing during pregnancy: more than half stopped their treatment, a quarter maintained their treatment throughout pregnancy, and one-fifth discontinued it for a minimum of three months and then resumed it during the postpartum period.

Are women using e-cigarettes during preconception and/or pregnancy?
A new study of 1,365 racially/ethnically diverse, low-income pregnant women found that 4% reported e-cigarette use.

A better pregnancy test for whales
To determine whale pregnancy, researchers have relied on visual cues or hormone tests of blubber collected via darts, but the results were often inconclusive.

Cannabis use during pregnancy
The large health care system Kaiser Permanente Northern California provides universal screening for prenatal cannabis use in women during pregnancy by self-report and urine toxicology testing.

Questions and answers about cannabis use during pregnancy
A new study shows that women have many medical questions about the use of cannabis both before and during pregnancy, and during the postpartum period while breastfeeding.

The effect of taking antidepressants during pregnancy
Exposure to antidepressants during pregnancy and the first weeks of life can alter sensory processing well into adulthood, according to research in mice recently published in eNeuro.

Is ivermectin safe during pregnancy?
Is it safe to give ivermectin to pregnant women? To answer this question, researchers from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), an institution supported by 'la Caixa,' conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies that reported cases of accidental exposure to the drug among pregnant women.

Going to sleep on your back in late pregnancy
This study looked at whether going to sleep on your back in the third trimester of pregnancy was associated with average lower birth weights.

Read More: Pregnancy News and Pregnancy Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.