Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been linked to premature birth and having a smaller baby by a team of US researchers.
The US study of more than 800 women found that babies of those with the anxiety disorder weighed about half a pound less than usual.
The University of Michigan team called for greater awareness and consideration of the disorder in maternity care.
The team said that almost 50% of the women involved in the research - published in the journal BJOG An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology - were African American.
Lead researcher Julia Seng, professor of nursing at the University of Michigan, said: “Maternity care needs to take traumatic stress into account, with awareness being raised amongst health workers.”
John Thorp, BJOG deputy editor, called for specialist care for women with PTSD, adding that screening is crucial to achieve the best outcome for mother and baby.
He said: “Raising awareness will help health workers identify those women at risk and provide the relevant support during the antenatal period.”