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Women at risk of severe mental illness after birth of first child

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Journal alert

Primiparous women are at increased risk of developing schizophrenia and bipolar disorder as well as depression during the postpartum period, a population-based register study has found.

A total of 1,171 new mothers, in Denmark, were admitted with a mental health disorder during the 12 months after the birth of their baby. Those women who had given birth to their first child 10 to 19 days beforehand were seven times more likely to be admitted with a serious mental illness than those who had given birth 11 to 12 months ago.

Although the risk reduced over time it remained significant for three months.

Women were at increased risk of schizophrenia for one month, bipolar disorder for two months and depression for five months after the birth of their first child.

Munk-Olsen T, Laursen TM, Pedersen CB et al. New parents and mental disorders. A population-based register study JAMA 2006;296:2582-9

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