Perinatal mental health and pregnancy-related complication can affect the transition to motherhood and the development of mother-infant attachment. The study aimed to analyze the prevalence of mental disorders and the pattern of attachment in women with pregnancy complications. A systematic review was conducted by searching in PubMed, Psychinfo and Embase. A total of 59 studies conducted on women with high-risk pregnancy were included. The findings of the studies show that the prevalence of mental disorders, rather than the mean scores on psychopathological severity scales, are greater than those reported by healthy pregnant women. The risk for mental health impairment is higher for women with low educational level, previous mental disorders, previous pregnancy complications, and disfunctional coping strategies. During postnatal period, there are evidence of a strong association between anxious or depressive symptoms and the quality of mother-child interaction. By contrast, only few studies analyzed prenatal attachment and they provided contrasting results. In conclusion, pregnancy complications represents a risk-factor for the onset of mental disorder, thus it may affect mother-child interaction. Biological as well as psycho-social mechanisms underlying the associations described above are discussed in order to achieve better understanding and to suggest proper intervention in these cases.
Keywords: Mental health, pregnancy complications, pregnancy-high risk, attachment, mother-infant interaction.