Monday, November 10, 2008

Stillbirth and mental illness

Researchers from the Centre for Women's Health at the University of Manchester have been looking at the medical records for 1.5 million births that took place in Denmark between 1973 and 1998. Scandinavian countries tend to keep very extensive medical records on their citizens which make such research easier to carry out there. The aim was to investigate the links between mental health problems and stillbirth. There were 7,021 stillbirths over the course of the study and the risk was twice as high for mothers admitted with a serious psychiatric illness. Schizophrenia, psychosis, mood-affective disorders, manic depression and drug and alcohol problems all increased the risk of a stillbirth. Women with drug and alcohol problems had more than twice the risk of stillbirth due to complications during delivery while women with affective disorders were more than twice as likely to give birth to babies with congenital abnormalities leading to stillbirth. Because different mental-health problems led to different kinds of stillbirth the researchers thought that it was the poor lifestyle of mentally-ill women (smoking, a poor diet, less antenatal care and poverty) rather than their mental illness per se that caused the stillbirths.

You can find out more about this research at

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