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Simeone RM, House LD, Salvesen von Essen B, Kortsmit K, Hernandez Virella W, Vargas Bernal MI, Galang RR, D'Angelo DV, Shapiro-Mendoza CK, Ellington SR. Public Health Rep. (1974) 2023; ePub(ePub): ePub.


(Copyright © 2023, Association of Schools of Public Health)






OBJECTIVE: Exposure to natural disasters during and after pregnancy may increase adverse mental health outcomes. Hurricanes Irma and Maria struck Puerto Rico in September 2017. Our objectives were to understand hurricane-related experiences, maternal health concerns, and the impact of hurricane experiences on postpartum depressive symptoms (PDS).

METHODS: We used data from the 2018 Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System to describe differences in maternal hurricane experiences among women who were pregnant during and after the 2017 hurricanes. We assessed maternal concerns and PDS. We estimated adjusted prevalence ratios (aPRs) and 95% CIs for the associations between hurricane experiences and PDS.

RESULTS: The most frequently reported hurricane experiences were losing power for ≥1 week (97%) and feeling unsafe due to lack of order/security (70%). Almost 30% of women who were pregnant during the hurricanes reported missing prenatal care. PDS were reported by 13% of women. Most hurricane experiences were associated with an increased prevalence of PDS. Feeling unsafe (aPR = 2.4; 95% CI, 1.2-4.9) and having difficulty getting food (aPR = 2.1; 95% CI, 1.1-4.1) had the strongest associations.

CONCLUSIONS: Most women who were pregnant during or after hurricanes Irma and Maria struck Puerto Rico reported negative hurricane experiences, and most experiences were associated with an increased prevalence of PDS. Understanding the experiences of pregnant women during and after disasters and identifying risks for adverse mental health outcomes after pregnancy are important to inform emergency preparedness and prenatal and postpartum care.

Language: en


maternal health; disaster; pregnancy; hurricanes; PRAMS; prenatal; preparedness


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