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Lancet publishes pregnancy and childbirth mental health series

A new research paper by NCMH director Professor Ian Jones is due to appear in The Lancet medical journal as part of a series around mental health in pregnancy and childbirth.

The series of three papers from Kings College London, Cardiff University and Oxford University discusses the full range of mental illnesses that can occur during pregnancy and after childbirth. It covers how often they occur, their causes, the risks to mother and baby, treatments that are effective and how these disorders may be prevented. The papers identify areas where more research is urgently required.

Professor Jones’ contribution, Bipolar disorder, affective psychosis, and schizophrenia in pregnancy and the post-partum period, was co written by Dr Prabha S Chandra, Dr Paola Dazzan, and Professor Louise M Howard.

It discusses the care of illnesses such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia during the perinatal period. Childbirth can be a powerful trigger of severe mood disorders such as mania, severe depression and psychosis, particularly in women with a history of bipolar disorder.

Suicide attempts are common in these circumstances and remain one of the leading causes of maternal death in high-income countries. The paper advises that all women of reproductive age with a history of severe mental illness should be properly counselled about the risks and the care needed during pregnancy and after childbirth due to the risk of relapse.

Professor Jones says: “More research is crucial to understand what triggers psychotic episodes during pregnancy and childbirth so we can predict women at risk and develop treatments that are safe to be administered for mother and baby.”

Read our recent blog on the need for better perinatal care, or download our Bipolar Disorder and Pregnancy leaflet.

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