Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

First-time Mothers At Greater Risk Of Psychosis In Month Following Childbirth

Date:
February 13, 2009
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
A study of risk factors associated with psychotic illness after childbirth shows that first-time mothers are at the greatest risk of developing psychosis in the month following the birth of their child -- even if they have never been treated in hospital for mental illness in the past.

A study of risk factors associated with psychotic illness after childbirth, published this week in the open-access journal PLoS Medicine, shows that first-time mothers are at the greatest risk of developing psychosis in the month following the birth of their child – even if they have never been treated in hospital for mental illness in the past.

It can be common for mothers to experience mental illness in the post-partum period (the months following childbirth): most frequently these might involve short-lived cases of the "baby blues" in the days after birth, and mild to moderate postnatal depression in the weeks and months that follow. Psychotic illness (a mental condition involving episodes where the individual is unable to distinguish between reality and their imagination) in the post-partum period is relatively rare. Only around one in every 1,000 women develops psychosis after delivery, but it is dangerous for mother and child, with greater risk of self-harm and suicide. The causes of post-partum psychosis are not well understood.

Unnur Valdimarsdottir, of the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, and colleagues investigated the rates of psychosis in first-time mothers up to 90 days after the birth of their child, and a number of possible risk factors for psychosis, in Sweden between 1983 and 2000.

Sweden has excellent conditions for this research because it has population-based registers covering almost all births and inpatient records. The researchers therefore had a representative sample – they were able to identify nearly three quarters of a million first-time mothers in Sweden in this period and found that 892 had been admitted to hospital for psychosis within 90 days of giving birth (a rate of 1.2 cases for every thousand births). About half of these women had no previous record of being hospitalized for any psychiatric illness. Amongst the women who developed psychosis, the incidence rate was highest during the first month following birth and it dropped to a tenth of that initial rate at 90 days after birth.

Furthermore, the research established that the risk of developing psychosis increased with maternal age: women older than 35 were at two times greater risk than women aged 19 or less. Factors associated with less risk of psychosis in the population of women studied were higher infant birth weight and maternal diabetes; other factors, including smoking and not living with the infant's father, had no or limited impact on the risk of psychosis during the postpartum period.

The study therefore suggests that there is a specific risk of first-time mothers developing psychosis in the early period after childbirth. This finding highlights the importance of carefully monitoring women in the first month after delivery. However, the authors recognise that their findings cannot determine exactly why the risk of psychosis is greatest a month after delivery. They suggest several explanations, including the idea that women are at greater biological vulnerability in this period due to the profound hormonal fluctuations they experience.

In an expert commentary on the new study, Phillipa Hay (University of Western Sydney), uninvolved with the research, says: "it is unlikely that there will be any single explanation, and that biological factors will be independent of others." Hay argues that other interdependent risk factors, including biological, social and psychological factors, may contribute to post-partum psychosis in first-time mothers, and that by elucidating these risk factors we may "reduce the impact and burden" of this devastating illness.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. Valdimarsdottir U, Hultman CM, Harlow B, Cnattingius S, Sparen P. Psychotic Illness in First-Time Mothers with No Previous Psychiatric Hospitalizations: A Population-Based Study. PLoS Medicine, 2009; 6 (2): e13 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1000013
  2. Hay PJ. Post-Partum Psychosis: Which Women Are at Highest Risk? PLoS Medicine, 2009; 6 (2): e27 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1000027

Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "First-time Mothers At Greater Risk Of Psychosis In Month Following Childbirth." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 February 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090209205043.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2009, February 13). First-time Mothers At Greater Risk Of Psychosis In Month Following Childbirth. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090209205043.htm
Public Library of Science. "First-time Mothers At Greater Risk Of Psychosis In Month Following Childbirth." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090209205043.htm (accessed September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Food Addiction Might Be Caused By PTSD

Food Addiction Might Be Caused By PTSD

Newsy (Sep. 18, 2014) New research shows that women who suffer from PTSD are three times more likely to develop a food addiction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Corporal Punishment on Decline, Debate Renews

Corporal Punishment on Decline, Debate Renews

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Corporal punishment in the United States is on the decline, but there is renewed debate over its use after Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was charged with child abuse. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

AP (Sep. 15, 2014) The FDA is considering whether to ban devices used by the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Canton, Massachusetts, the only place in the country known to use electrical skin shocks as aversive conditioning for aggressive patients. (Sept. 15) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins