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Salivary cortisol in pregnant women suffering from blood-and injection phobia
Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Obstetrics and gynecology. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences. Östergötlands Läns Landsting, Centre of Paediatrics and Gynecology and Obstetrics, Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics in Linköping.
Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Clinical Chemistry. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences. Östergötlands Läns Landsting, Centre for Laboratory Medicine, Department of Clinical Chemistry.
Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Obstetrics and gynecology. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences. Östergötlands Läns Landsting, Centre of Paediatrics and Gynecology and Obstetrics, Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics in Linköping.
Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Obstetrics and gynecology. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences. Östergötlands Läns Landsting, Centre of Paediatrics and Gynecology and Obstetrics, Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics in Linköping.
2011 (English)In: Archives of Women's Mental Health, ISSN 1434-1816, E-ISSN 1435-1102, Vol. 14, no 5, 405-411 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose: Stress and/or anxiety during pregnancy affect maternal and fetal wellbeing and can cause premature delivery and postnatal pathology in the child. Women suffering from phobias related to blood and injections are prone to high levels of stress including anxiety and sometimes panic attacks during pregnancy. Cortisol is amongst the mediators through which the neurohormonal expressions of maternal psychological factors may be transduced to the fetus. The aim was to investigate if pregnant women suffering from blood- and injection phobia have raised cortisol levels or are characterized by unusual diurnal salivary cortisol profiles compared to healthy controls.

Methods: The sample consisted of 110 pregnant women with blood- and injection phobia and 110 pregnant healthy controls. Both groups provided morning and evening saliva samples in week 25 and 36 for the assay of cortisol. In gestational week 25 when blood was drawn for the mandatory blood testing extra blood was taken to analyze corticotrophin releasing  factor (CRF), adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and cortisol in serum.

Results: The expected diurnal decline in salivary cortisol was observed as well as increased cortisol levels during pregnancy. Pregnant women suffering from blood- and injection phobia had higher output of cortisol compared to women without the phobia (F=6.25 df=1 p=0.014) but no marked difference in the diurnal cortisol rhythm was found between the groups.

Conclusion: Our findings indicate that untreated blood- and injection phobia during pregnancy increases cortisol concentrations. Blood- and injection phobia is treatable and cognitive behavioral therapy can be used.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer Berlin/Heidelberg, 2011. Vol. 14, no 5, 405-411 p.
Keyword [en]
Cortisol, anxiety, stress, pregnancy, blood- and injection phobia
National Category
Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Medicine
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-59744DOI: 10.1007/s00737-011-0234-2ISI: 000297847800005OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-59744DiVA: diva2:353233
Available from: 2010-09-24 Created: 2010-09-24 Last updated: 2017-12-12
In thesis
1. Blood-and Injection Phobia in Pregnancy: Epidemiological, Biological and Treatment aspects
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Blood-and Injection Phobia in Pregnancy: Epidemiological, Biological and Treatment aspects
2010 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Introduction: Blood- and injection phobia is an anxiety disorder with a prevalence of approximately 3-5% in the general population. The etiology is often a combination of genetic factors and a conditioning experience. The symptoms of blood- and injection phobia are dizziness, confusion, nausea, epigastria discomfort, anxiety and sometimes panic attacks when receiving injections, seeing blood or having a blood sample taken. Unique for this specific phobia is the high probability of fainting when the phobic situation is encountered if there is no possibility to escape or to avoid the stimuli.

During pregnancy and labor, women with blood- and injection phobia are exposed to most of their fears and they therefore find themselves in anxiety-ridden situations. Stress and anxiety during pregnancy is known to be risk factors for adverse obstetric and neonatal outcomes. Studies have shown an altered hypothalamic-adrenal-pituitary axis in women with stress or/and anxiety during pregnancy and increased cortisol concentrations can imply negative consequences for the unborn child. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is known to be effective in treating specific phobias such as blood- and injection phobia.

Aim: The prevalence, obstetric and neonatal consequences, impact on the hypothalamic adrenal-pituitary axis and treatment aspects of blood- and injection phobia in a pregnant population have not been investigated before. The aims of this thesis were to study each of these phenomena.

Material and methods: During 2005 a total of 1606 pregnant women were approached at their first visit in an antenatal care clinic in the southeast region in Sweden. They were asked to complete the “Injection Phobia Scale-Anxiety” questionnaire. All women who scored ≥ 20 on the “Injection Phobia Scale-Anxiety” questionnaire (N=347), were interviewed and either diagnosed for blood- and injection phobia or dismissed. In total, 110 women were diagnosed as having blood- and injection phobia. Among the women who scored <20 on the “Injection Phobia Scale-Anxiety” questionnaire, 220 women were randomly stratified for age and parity as a control group. The women in the study population answered questionnaires in gestational week 25, 36 and postpartum concerning symptoms of blood- and injection phobia, depression and anxiety. Samples of cortisol in the saliva were collected in the morning and evening in gestational week 25 and 36 in both groups of pregnant women. The medical records from the antenatal care visits, the delivery and postpartum check-up was used to collect data of importance. A treatment study was conducted using a two session cognitive behavioral therapy in a group of pregnant woman with blood- and injection phobia.

Results: The prevalence of blood- and injection phobia is 7 % in a pregnant population. Pregnant women with blood- and injection phobia stated more often a fear of childbirth (p<0.001) and were more frequently delivered by elective cesarean section (p=0.032). The incidence of having a baby diagnosed with a complication (p=0.001) was also higher among these women. The women with blood- and injection phobia had increased cortisol concentrations in the saliva compared to the healthy controls (p=0.014). A two-session CBT in group for pregnant women with blood- and injection phobia reduced phobic (p<0.001) anxiety (p<0.001) and depressive (p<0.001) symptoms during pregnancy.

Conclusions: Blood- and injection phobia during pregnancy is rather common. Pregnant women with blood- and injection phobia are more likely to be delivered by elective cesarean section and having a baby born with a complication compared to women not suffering from this specific phobia. Untreated blood- and injection phobia during pregnancy increases salivary cortisol concentrations indicating an altered hypothalamic-adrenal-pituitary axis during these weeks of pregnancy. To enhance psychological well being in pregnant women with blood- and injection phobia a two-session program providing CBT for groups of pregnant women is valuable and produces stable results for at least 3 months after delivery.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2010. 126 p.
Series
Linköping University Medical Dissertations, ISSN 0345-0082 ; 1194
Keyword
Blood-and injection phobia, pregnancy, prevalence, cortisol, outcome, cognitive behavioral therapy
National Category
Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Medicine
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-59745 (URN)978-91-7393-344-5 (ISBN)
Public defence
2010-10-15, Berzeliussalen, Ingång 65,, Campus US, Linköpings Universitet, Linköping, 09:00 (Swedish)
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Supervisors
Available from: 2010-10-04 Created: 2010-09-24 Last updated: 2011-03-25Bibliographically approved

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Lilliecreutz, CarolineTheodorsson, ElvarSydsjö, GunillaJosefsson, Ann

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