Women with schizophrenia are at increased risk for serious problems during pregnancy and childbirth, according to a new study.
researchers analysed data on births in the province of Ontario from
2002 to 2011 and found that pre-eclampsia, preterm birth and other
serious pregnancy and delivery complications were twice as likely to
occur in women with schizophrenia than in those without the mental
Women with schizophrenia were more likely to
develop placental abruption (in which placenta separates from the
uterus) and septic shock, to undergo induced labour and caesarean section,
to be transferred to an intensive care unit, and to be readmitted to
the hospital after discharge.
Read: The future of schizophrenia
Low fertility rates
"Traditionally, women with
schizophrenia have had low fertility rates, and little attention was
paid to their reproductive health," study author Dr Simon Vigod, a
psychiatrist at Women's College Hospital in Toronto, said in a hospital
news release. "But recently, with fertility rates on the rise among
these women, we must now turn our attention to ensuring their
reproductive health and that of their babies."
of Americans have schizophrenia, according to the US National
Institute of Mental Health. Symptoms usually start between ages 16 and
The researchers examined records for new mothers between the
ages of 15 and 49, and found the risk of dying within a year of giving
birth was more than five times greater for women with schizophrenia. And
babies born to mothers with schizophrenia tended to have abnormally
high or low weights.
Read: Schizophrenia: a mother's tale
Women with schizophrenia also had more
health problems before conceiving, according to the study, which was
published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
Informed reproductive decisions
to women without the mental illness, schizophrenic women were more
likely to have diabetes (about 4% vs. 1%), chronic high
blood pressure (almost 4% vs. 2%) and blood clots (about 2% vs. 0.5%) before their pregnancy.
findings provide] the information and tools to begin to look at what
interventions we can put in place to help reduce the risk of pregnancy
and delivery complications for women with schizophrenia," said Vigod,
who is also a scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative
"That might include providing better education so
these women can make informed reproductive decisions, and ensuring the
best medical care possible before, during and after pregnancy," he said.
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