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Depression Symptoms Greater in Mothers With Prior Eating Disorders

Findings based on long-term follow-up from 18th week of pregnancy to 18 years postnatal

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THURSDAY, June 13, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Women with eating disorders experience persistently greater depressive symptoms across the life-course, according to a study recently published in the British Journal of Psychiatry.

Yu Wei Chua, Ph.D., from the University of Strathclyde in the United Kingdom, and colleagues used data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (9,276 women) to model trajectories of depressive symptoms from the 18th week of pregnancy to 18 years postnatal in women with lifetime self-reported eating disorders (anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or both).

The researchers found that 1.4 percent of women reported a lifetime diagnosis of anorexia nervosa, 1.6 percent reported bulimia nervosa, and 0.6 percent reported both disorders. Compared with women with no eating disorders, women with lifetime eating disorders had greater depressive symptom scores even after adjusting for confounders (adjusted coefficient for anorexia nervosa, 2.10; bulimia nervosa, 2.28; both disorders, 2.86). There was a dose-response association between greater body image and eating concerns in pregnancy and more severe trajectories of depressive symptoms. These findings remained even after adjusting for lifetime eating disorders, which also remained independently associated with greater depressive symptoms.

"More training for practitioners and midwives on how to recognize eating disorders in pregnancy could help to identify depressive symptoms and reduce the long-term burden of disease resulting from this comorbidity," the authors write.

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