Unintended pregnancy is a risk factor for depressive symptoms among socio-economically disadvantaged women in rural Bangladesh

Pamela J. Surkan, Donna M. Strobino, Sucheta Mehra, Abu Ahmed Shamim, Mahbubur Rashid, Lee Shu Fune Wu, Hasmot Ali, Barkat Ullah, Alain B. Labrique, Rolf D.W. Klemm, Keith P. West, Parul Christian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: Little is known about the relation between unwanted pregnancy and intention discordance and maternal mental health in low-income countries. The study aim was to evaluate maternal and paternal pregnancy intentions (and intention discordance) in relation to perinatal depressive symptoms among rural Bangladeshi women. Methods: Data come from a population-based, community trial of married rural Bangladeshi women aged 13-44. We examined pregnancy intentions among couples and pregnancy-intention discordance, as reported by women at enrollment soon after pregnancy ascertainment, in relation to depressive symptoms in the third trimester of pregnancy (N = 14,629) and six months postpartum (N = 31,422). We calculated crude and adjusted risk ratios for prenatal and postnatal depressive symptoms by pregnancy intentions. Results: In multivariable analyses, women with unwanted pregnancies were at higher risk of prenatal (Adj. RR = 1.60, 95% CI: 1.37-1.87) and postnatal depressive symptoms (Adj. RR = 1.32, 95% CI: 1.21-1.44) than women with wanted pregnancies. Women who perceived their husbands did not want the pregnancy also were at higher risk for prenatal (Adj. RR = 1.42, 95% CI: 1.22-1.65) and postnatal depressive symptoms (Adj. RR = 1.30, 95% CI: 1.19-1.41). Both parents not wanting the pregnancy was associated with prenatal and postnatal depressive symptoms (Adj. RR = 1.34, 95% CI: 1.19-1.52; Adj. RR = 1.13, 95% CI: 1.06-1.21, respectively), compared to when both parents wanted it. Adjusting for socio-demographic and pregnancy intention variables simultaneously, maternal intentions and pregnancy discordance were significantly related to prenatal depressive symptoms, and perception of paternal pregnancy unwantedness and couple pregnancy discordance, with postnatal depressive symptoms. Conclusions: Maternal, paternal and discordant couple pregnancy intentions, as perceived by rural Bangladeshi women, are important risk factors for perinatal maternal depressive symptoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number490
JournalBMC pregnancy and childbirth
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 13 2018


  • Bangladesh
  • Depressive symptoms
  • Perinatal depression
  • Pregnancy intention discordance
  • Unintended pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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