Document Type



Obstetrics and Gynaecology (East Africa); Paediatrics and Child Health (East Africa); Pathology (East Africa)


Background: Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) have been associated with deleterious effects on mental health in pregnancy.

Methods: The ACE International Questionnaire (ACE-IQ) was used to measure neglect, abuse, and household dysfunction. Longitudinal mixed effect modelling was used to test the effect of ACEs on pregnancy-related anxiety, depressive symptoms, and perceived stress at two time points (12–19 and 22–29 weeks) during pregnancy.

Results: A total of 215 women who were predominantly married (81%) and had attained tertiary education (96%) were enrolled. Total ACEs were significantly associated with depressive symptoms (r = 0.23, p < 0.05) and perceived stress (r = 0.18, p < 0.05). As depressive symptoms decreased, t (167) = −8.44, p < 0.001, perceived stress increased, t (167) = 4.60, p < 0.001, and pregnancy-related anxiety remained unchanged as pregnancy progressed. Contact sexual abuse (p < 0.01) and parental death or divorce (p = 0.01) were significantly associated with depression over time (p < 0.01). Total ACEs in this study were associated with depressive symptoms early but not late in pregnancy.

Conclusions: Higher total ACEs were positively associated with depressive symptoms and perceived stress during pregnancy, suggesting that mental disorders may have an impact on pregnancy outcomes and ought to be addressed. Further validation of the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) tool in local settings is required.

Publication (Name of Journal)

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.