Friday, February 13, 2009

Predicting postnatal psychosis

It can be common for mothers to experience mental-health problems in the months following childbirth. These can include 'baby blues' in the days after birth and mild-moderate postnatal depression in the weeks and months afterwards. However, around 1 in a 1000 women go on to develop postnatal psychosis which is serious in itself and also causes a risk of self-harm and suicide. Researchers in Sweden looked at nearly three-quarters of a million women who gave birth for the first time between 1983 and 2000. 892 of them had been admitted to a hospital for psychosis within 90 days of giving birth. About half of these women had no previous record of being hospitalised for mental illness. The incidence of psychosis was highest in the first month after birth and dropped to a tenth of this rate after 90 days. Women over 35 were at twice the risk of developing psychosis compared to women aged 19 and under. Maternal diabetes and a higher infant birth weight were associated with a lower risk of psychosis but other factors including smoking and not living with the baby's father were not found to make much difference.

You can find out more about this research at

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