Disaster and perinatal health: a systematic review

Added May 5, 2014

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This was a systematic review of 49 peer-reviewed studies on the effects of disaster on pregnancy and the postpartum period. The identification of women at high risk and who may be more vulnerable, in particular in respect to mental health, after a disaster will help improve organising and preparing patient care. Although limited evidence exists, there is evidence that disasters impact maternal mental health and some perinatal health outcomes, particular among highly exposed women.  Disasters may reduce fetal growth in some women, but there does not appear to be an effect on gestational age at birth. Severity of exposure is the major predictor of mental health issues among pregnant and postpartum women. After a disaster, mental health of the mother may more strongly influence on child development than any direct effect of disaster-related prenatal stress.