Birth complications higher in mentally ill
Birth complications higher in mentally ill

PREGNANT women with serious mental illnesses are more likely to experience antenatal and birth complications researchers have found

Women with schizophrenia bipolar disorder and other serious mental illnesses had higherrisk pregnancies more complicated deliveries and their babies were more likely to need special care the study showed

A team from the Childbirth and Mental Illness Antenatal Clinic at King Edward Memorial Hospital in Perth reviewed the births of 138 women with mental illnesses from 2007 to 2011

Fortyfour of the women suffered schizophrenia 56 had bipolar disorder and 38 had nonpsychotic serious mental illnesses

Almost half the women 46 per cent were smokers while alcohol and substance use was also common according to a report published on Monday in the Medical Journal of Australia

The rates of gestational diabetes among the women were three times higher than the general population which may be linked to the high mean body mass index across all groups which was in the overweight to obese range the report said

The women were also more likely to experience preeclampsia and threatened preterm labour

Almost a third of the women experienced fetal distress or delays in labour progressing reflected in high rates of nonelective caesareans particularly among women with schizophrenia 41 per cent

About 32 per cent of the infants born required special nursery care and the majority had lower measures of infant health at birth than the general population

Lead researcher and psychiatrist Dr Thinh Nguyen said many new antipsychotic drugs taken by pregnant women were associated with higher calorie intake and sugar cravings which could be contributing to the levels of obesity and metabolicrelated disorders

However he said it was surprising that the infants born had birth weights and levels of prematurity similar to the rest of the population

Obstetrician Jacqueline Frayne said there were a number of possible reasons behind the levels of birth complications

quotA lot of these women might suffer from gestational diabetes and preeclampsia which might lead to increased rates of fetal distress it might be something that is linked with the medication use that they are on

quotIt also might be something that is intrinsic to the actual psychiatric diseasequot she told AAP

Dr Nguyen emphasised that despite the complications the women had successful pregnancies and deliveries

quotDespite a lot of risk factors these women actually did very wellquot he said

He said the study showed that women with mental illnesses needed to be managed comprehensively with psychiatric obstetric and social work support

quotWe hope this multifaceted approach will be taken up by other centres around the countryquot he said

Date : 16 Apr, 2012
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