Global burden of antenatal depression and its association with adverse birth outcomes: an umbrella review

Abel Fekadu Dadi, Emma R. Miller, Telake Azale Bisetegn, Lillian Mwanri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

99 Citations (Scopus)
15 Downloads (Pure)


BACKGROUND: Women of childbearing age are at high risk of developing depression and antenatal depression is one of the most common mood disorders. Antenatal depression is also associated with a number of poor maternal and infant outcomes, however, there remains a lack of focus on mental issues in antenatal care, particularly in lower income countries. This systematic review of reviews provides useful evidence regarding the burden of antenatal depression which may provide guidance for health policy development and planning. METHODS: We searched CINAHL(EBSCO), MEDLINE (via Ovid), PsycINFO, Emcare, PubMed, Psychiatry Online, and Scopus databases for systematic reviews that based on observational studies that were published in between January 1st, 2007 and August 31st, 2018. We used the Assessment of Multiple Systematic Reviews (AMSTAR) checklist scores to assess the quality of the included reviews. We applied vote counting and narrative review to summarize the prevalence of antenatal depression and its associated factors, while statistical pooling was conducted for estimating the association of antenatal depression with low birth weight and preterm birth. This systematic review of reviews was registered on PROSPERO with protocol number CRD42018116267. RESULTS: We have included ten reviews (306 studies with 877,246 participants) on antenatal depression prevalence and six reviews (39 studies with 75,451 participants) conducted to identify the effect of antenatal depression on preterm and low birth weight. Globally, we found that antenatal depression prevalence ranged from 15 to 65%. We identified the following prominent risk factors based on their degree of influence: Current or previous exposure to different forms of abuse and violence (six reviews and 73 studies); lack of social and/or partner support (four reviews and 47 studies); personal or family history of any common mental disorder (three reviews and 34 studies). The risk of low birth weight and preterm birth was 1.49 (95%CI: 1.32, 1.68; I2 = 0.0%) and 1.40 (95%CI: 1.16, 1.69; I2 = 35.2%) times higher among infants born from depressed mothers. CONCLUSIONS: Globally, antenatal depression prevalence was high and could be considered a common mental disorder during pregnancy. Though the association between antenatal depression and adverse birth outcomes appeared to be modest, its absolute impact would be significant in lower-income countries with a high prevalence of antenatal depression and poor access to quality mental health services.

Original languageEnglish
Article number173
Number of pages16
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 4 Feb 2020

Bibliographical note

Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.


  • Adverse birth outcomes
  • Antenatal depression
  • Review of reviews


Dive into the research topics of 'Global burden of antenatal depression and its association with adverse birth outcomes: an umbrella review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this