Document Type



Obstetrics and Gynaecology (East Africa); Population Health (East Africa)


Antenatal stress has been associated with adverse birth outcomes such as fetal growth restriction, low birth weight, and preterm birth. Understanding key determinants of stress in a vulnerable pregnant population has the potential of informing development of targeted cost-effective interventions to mitigate against these adverse birth outcomes. We conducted a secondary analysis of data from 150 pregnant women attending antenatal care services at a rural referral hospital in Kenya. The participants completed a sociodemographic and clinical questionnaire, the Cohen’s Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) and gave a hair sample for cortisol and cortisone analysis. The association between selected sociodemographic predictors (age, parity, marital status, maternal education, household income, polygyny, and intimate partner violence) and outcomes (hair cortisol, hair cortisone, and PSS score) was examined using univariate, bivariate and multivariate models. We found a negative association between PSS scores and household income (β = −2.40, p = 0.016, 95% CI = −4.36, −0.45). There was a positive association of the ratio of hair cortisone to cortisol with Adolescent age group (β = 0.64, p = 0.031, 95% CI = 0.06, 1.22), and a negative association with Cohabitation (β = −1.21, p = 0.009, 95% CI = −2.11, −0.31). We conclude that household income influenced psychological stress in pregnancy. Adolescence and cohabitation may have an influence on biological stress, but the nature of this effect is unclear.


International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.