Disordered personality traits and psychiatric morbidity in pregnancy: a population-based study

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This study aims to investigate the characteristics and mental health status of pregnant women with disordered personality traits. A cross-sectional study of a stratified sample of 545 women attending antenatal booking at a South London maternity service was conducted. Disordered personality traits were assessed using the Standardised Assessment of Personality-Abbreviated Scale (SAPAS). Mental disorders were assessed using the Structured Clinical Interview DSM-IV (SCID). Logistic regression was used to model associations, adjusting for confounders. Complete SAPAS data were collected for over 99% of women (n = 541). The weighted prevalence of elevated disordered personality traits (SAPAS ≥ 3) was 16.2% (95% CI 12.6–20.5). Women with elevated disordered personality traits were younger, less likely to live alone and more likely to report living in insecure accommodation. Among women with elevated disordered personality traits, the most common mental disorders were anxiety disorders (31.4%) and depressive disorders (17.6%). Each extra item endorsed on the SAPAS was associated with an 82% higher odds of meeting criteria for an Axis I mental disorder (adjusted OR 1.82 (1.42–2.33); p < 0.001). Women with elevated disordered personality traits were at significantly increased risk of experiencing thoughts of self-harm (adjusted OR 2.12 (1.33–3.40); p = 0.002). Pregnant women with disordered personality traits are a particularly vulnerable population, with multiple psychosocial problems that are likely to require tailored support to ameliorate future health risks for mother and baby.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-52
Number of pages10
JournalArchives of Women's Mental Health
Issue number1
Early online date5 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020


  • Perinatal mental health
  • Personality disorder
  • Pregnancy
  • Self-harm


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