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Mental Disorder Risk Increases in Postpartum Period

Psychiatric hospital admission or outpatient contact especially high during first three months

TUESDAY, Dec. 5 (HealthDay News) -- First-time mothers are at higher risk of developing postpartum depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia within the first three months of giving birth than at other times, researchers report in the Dec. 6 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Trine Munk-Olsen, M.Sc., of the University of Aarhus in Denmark, and colleagues analyzed data on 630,373 women and 547,431 men who became first-time parents between 1973 and 2005.

Compared with women who had given birth 11 to 12 months prior, new mothers had an increased risk for incident hospital admission for any mental disorder during the first three months after childbirth, with the highest risk 10 to 19 days postpartum (relative risk, 7.31).

New mothers had an increased risk for psychiatric outpatient contacts during the first three months after childbirth, again with the highest risk occurring 10 to 19 days postpartum (RR, 2.67). Fatherhood was not associated with any increased risk of hospital admission or outpatient contact.

"These collective data [Munk-Olsen et al and other studies] emphasize the importance of recognizing childbearing as a potent health factor in the life course of women," states an accompanying editorial, whose lead author took funding from Pfizer to study the pharmacokinetics of ziprasidone during pregnancy. "Childbearing influences the course of any disease state and acts as a biopsychosocial factor that may precipitate new episodes of illness. The data also provide evidence to inform and support universal screening for postpartum mood episodes."

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