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Stillbirths, Neonatal Deaths Tied to Maternal Mental Illness

Effective reproductive health care needed for mentally challenged women

MONDAY, Nov. 10 (HealthDay News) -- There is an increased risk of stillbirth and neonatal death among babies born to women with mental illness, according to a report published online Nov. 10 in the Archives of Disease in Childhood -- Fetal and Neonatal Edition.

Sarah King-Hele, M.D., of the Centre for Women's Mental Health, University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, and colleagues identified a cohort of 1.45 million live births and 7,021 stillbirths during 1973-1998 from the Danish Civil Registration System. They estimated the risks of stillbirth and neonatal death by specific causes in babies of mothers with histories of severe psychiatric illness, compared to the general population.

The investigators found that the risks of stillbirth and neonatal death were increased for nearly all causes of death in the various maternal mental illness categories. They also found that there was a greater risk of fatal congenital malformation associated with maternal affective disorder (stillbirth, relative risk 2.4; neonatal death, RR 2.1) or schizophrenia or related disorders (stillbirth, RR 2.4; neonatal death, RR 2.2) than with alcohol- and drug-related disorders (stillbirth, RR 1.2; neonatal death, RR 1.1).

Although the findings need to be replicated, "our results indicate that obstetric, pediatric and mental health workers should be aware that women with mental health problems are in particular need of good reproductive health planning and antenatal care, ideally provided by multidisciplinary teams that can care for their complex range of physical and mental needs during pregnancy," the authors conclude."

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