Association between antenatal maternal anxiety and fetal middle cerebral artery Doppler depends on fetal gender

Bayrak M., Sancak A.

JOURNAL OF MATERNAL-FETAL & NEONATAL MEDICINE, vol.34, no.5, pp.818-823, 2021 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 34 Issue: 5
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/14767058.2020.1716331
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, CINAHL, EMBASE, MEDLINE
  • Page Numbers: pp.818-823
  • Keywords: Birth weight, fetal Doppler, maternal anxiety, sex-specific alterations, STAI
  • Bursa Uludag University Affiliated: Yes


Objective: Several studies have demonstrated that antenatal maternal anxiety (AMA) during pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of abnormal fetal Doppler parameters and adverse perinatal outcomes. Despite these studies, the evidence of the association between them remains inconclusive due in part to the methodological limitations of existing studies. Hence, in the present study, we established strict criteria and excluded patients who may have moderate or confounding variables to investigate the relationship between AMA and fetal Doppler findings and adverse perinatal outcomes. Methods: This was a cross-sectional study of 160 healthy nulliparous pregnant women (gestational age 31-33 weeks) with uncomplicated obstetric histories, who underwent Doppler flow studies on uterine, umbilical and fetal middle cerebral artery (MCA). Maternal anxiety was measured by STAI-State and STAI-Trait inventory. Results: Statistical analyses revealed that STAI-Trait anxiety was associated with lower MCA pulsatility index at 31-33 weeks gestational age and lower birth weight for the female fetus. There were no significant differences in the birth weight of boys of mothers with high anxiety and without high anxiety. Conclusions: The adaptation of the fetus to this hostile environment as AMA differs by gender. Adaptation for the female fetus means the "brain sparing effect" and reduced birth weight. The findings emphasize the potential importance of maternal psychological wellbeing during pregnancy for fetal development.