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Open Access Research article

Prediction of maternal quality of life on preterm birth and low birthweight: a longitudinal study

Panchalli Wang1, Shwu-Ru Liou2 and Ching-Yu Cheng2*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Chia-Yi Christian Hospital, 539 Jhongsiao Rd, Chia-yi City 600, Taiwan

2 Chang Gung University of Science and Technology, 2 Chiapu Rd. West Sec. Putz, Chiayi 613, Taiwan

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BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 2013, 13:124  doi:10.1186/1471-2393-13-124

Published: 2 June 2013

Abstract

Background

Preterm birth is a significant cause of newborn morbidity and mortality and strains society’s healthcare resources due to its long-term effects on the health of the newborn. Prenatal maternal quality of life (QoL) may be related to the occurrence of preterm birth and low birthweight infants. Few studies, however, have investigated maternal QoL, especially throughout the continuum of pregnancy and the immediate postpartum period. Therefore, the purposes of this longitudinal study were to measure the levels of QoL during and immediately after pregnancy in women with uncomplicated pregnancies, investigate the relationships between the dimensions of QoL, and determine whether prenatal QoL can predict preterm birth and low birthweight.

Methods

Using convenience sampling in one hospital in Taiwan, we recruited 198 pregnant women without pregnancy complications after 24 gestational weeks and followed up monthly until one-month postpartum. The Duke Health Profile was used to measure QoL. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, the Mann–Whitney U test, the Kruskal-Wallis test, generalized estimation equations, Pearson correlations, and hierarchical logistic regression.

Results

Pregnant women did not perceive that they had a high level of QoL. Women at late pregnancy experienced a significant decrease in their level of physical and general health. After childbirth, although the mothers had better physical health, they had poorer social health. Poor QoL at late pregnancy predicted preterm birth. Employment, parity, educational level, and happiness about pregnancy were related to prenatal maternal QoL; employment was a factor related to postpartum maternal QoL.

Conclusions

Early assessment of QoL, including its dimensions, of pregnant women may help us to understand women’s health status. Based on this understanding, healthcare professionals can develop interventions to promote pregnant women’s QoL and to lessen the occurrence of preterm birth and low birthweight infants. Further, an emphasis on the positive aspects of pregnancy may increase maternal QoL.

Keywords:
Quality of life; Preterm birth; Low birthweight; Pregnancy; Postpartum