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BACKGROUND: Perinatal anxiety is associated with adverse outcomes for women and their infants. Women in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) may be at higher risk of perinatal anxiety. We aimed to systematically review and synthesise the evidence on prevalence of perinatal anxiety in LMIC. METHOD: We searched MEDLINE, Embase, PscyhINFO, Global Health and Web of Science to identify studies assessing prevalence of perinatal anxiety in LMIC. Studies published since January 2016 were included. Screening and data extraction was conducted independently by two reviewers. Pooled prevalence estimates were calculated using random-effect meta-analyses and sources of heterogeneity explored through subgroup analyses and meta-regression. RESULTS: We screened 9494 titles and abstracts, reviewed 700 full-texts and included 54 studies in the systematic review and meta-analysis. The pooled prevalence of self-reported anxiety symptoms was 29.2% (95%CI 24.5-34.2; I2 98.7%; 36 studies; n = 28,755) antenatally and 24.4% (95%CI 16.2-33.7; I2 98.5%; 15 studies; n = 6370) postnatally. The prevalence of clinically-diagnosed anxiety disorder was 8.1% (95%CI 4.4-12.8; I2 88.1% 5 studies; n = 1659) antenatally and 16.0% (95% CI 13.5-18.9; n = 113) postnatally. LIMITATIONS: Our search was limited to studies published since January 2016 in order to update a previous review on this topic. CONCLUSION: Perinatal anxiety represents a significant burden in LMIC, with one in four women experiencing symptoms during pregnancy or postpartum. Research remains lacking in a significant proportion of LMIC, particularly in the lowest income countries. Further research should guide application of screening tools in clinical settings to identify women with anxiety disorders in order to provide appropriate treatment.

Original publication




Journal article


J Affect Disord

Publication Date





71 - 79


Anxiety, Low- and middle-income country, Perinatal, Prevalence, Systematic review, Anxiety, Anxiety Disorders, Developing Countries, Female, Humans, Infant, Poverty, Pregnancy, Prevalence