About 10% of women report poor mental health during their pregnancy in France

Poor mental health is more frequent in women with disadvantaged social characteristics



Self-rated mental health is a useful indicator to examine the positive dimension of mental health and psychological well-being. The primary objective of this study was to estimate the prevalence of poor self-rated mental health during pregnancy in a nationally representative population in France. The second objective was to assess the sociodemographic and medical characteristics associated with this condition and with a health professional’s consultation for psychological problems.


The study was based on the 2010 French National Perinatal Survey, which included all singleton live births in French maternity units during a 1-week period (n=14,326 women). Self-rated mental health was assessed using the following single-item question: ‘‘During your pregnancy, how did you feel from a psychological point of view: good – fairly good – rather poor – poor?’’ Women were also asked if they had visited a healthcare professional for psychological problems. They were interviewed between delivery and discharge to collect information on mental health, sociodemographic and medical characteristics, the context of their pregnancy, and their prenatal care.


Of the women interviewed, 8.9% [95% CI, 8.5–9.5%] reported poor self-rated mental health during pregnancy. Among them, 18.7% consulted a healthcare professional for psychological problems. Sociodemographic characteristics indicative of social disadvantage were associated with a higher-risk of poor self-rated mental health, and a social gradient was observed. However, more favorable social characteristics were associated with consultation with a healthcare professional for these psychological difficulties. The reaction to the discovery of pregnancy and prenatal care differed significantly depending on self-rated mental health. Women with poor mental health had more complicated pregnancies.


This study showed strong associations between many socially disadvantaged characteristics and a positive dimension of mental health. The findings suggest that well-being measures such as self-rated mental health should be routinely assessed during pregnancy so that women can be offered more appropriate support

To read the paper

Ibanez G, Blondel B, Prunet C, Kaminski M, Saurel-Cubizolles M-J.Prevalence and characteristics of women reporting poor mental health during pregnancy: Findings from the 2010 French National Perinatal Survey. Rev Epidemiol Sante Publique. 2015 Apr;63(2):85-95.