Journal Article

Chronic stress and preconception health among Latina women in metro Atlanta

Background
Underserved subgroups are less likely to have optimal health prior to pregnancy. We describe preconception health indicators (behavior, pregnancy intention, and obesity) among pregnant Latina women with and without chronic stress in metro Atlanta.

Design
We surveyed 110 pregnant Latina women enrolled in prenatal care at three clinics in Atlanta. The survey assessed chronic stress, pregnancy intention, preconception behavior changes (taking folic acid or prenatal vitamins, seeking healthcare advice, any reduction in smoking or drinking), and previous trauma.

Results
Specific behaviors to improve health prior to pregnancy were uncommon (e.g., taking vitamins (25.5%) or improving nutrition (20.9%)). Just under half of women were experiencing a chronic stressor at the time of conception (49.5%). Chronically stressed women were more likely to be obese (aOR: 3.0 (1.2, 7.4)), less likely to intend their pregnancy (aOR: 0.3 (0.1, 0.7)), and possibly less likely to report any PHB (45.5% vs. 57.4%; aOR: 0.5 (0.2–1.1)).

Conclusions
Chronically stress women were less likely to enter prenatal care with optimal health. However, preconception behaviors were uncommon overall.