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First-time mothers at increased risk for postpartum mental disorders

New mothers are at an increased risk for mental disorders such as schizophrenia, depression and bipolar disorder in the 3 months following the birth of their first child, according to a study in the December 6 issue of JAMA. The study also found that first-time fathers do not have an increased risk for mental disorders.

Postpartum depression is a serious mental health problem for women and their families, with an estimated prevalence of about 10 percent to 15 percent among mothers. Postpartum disorders can also include more severe mental disorders, with a prevalence of about 1 per 1,000 births, according to background information in the article. There is some indication that a small percentage of men experience postpartum depression, but the possible relationship between becoming a father and first onset of mental disorders has not been established.

Trine Munk-Olsen, M.Sc., of the University of Aarhus, Denmark and colleagues conducted a study to estimate the risk of postpartum mental disorders requiring hospital admission or outpatient contact for first-time mothers and fathers up to 12 months after becoming a parent. The researchers analyzed data from Danish health and civil service registers, which for this study included a total of 2,357,942 Danish-born persons who were followed up from their 15th birthday or January 1973, whichever came later, until date of onset of the disorder in question, date of death, date of emigration from Denmark, or July 2005, whichever came first.

From 1973 to 2005, a total of 630,373 women and 547,431 men became parents for the first time. A total of 1,171 women and 658 men were admitted with a mental disorder to a psychiatric hospital during the first 12 months after parenthood, and the corresponding prevalence of severe mental disorders through the first 3 months after childbirth was 1.03 per 1,000 births for mothers and 0.37 per 1,000 births for fathers. For first-time mothers, the first weeks and m
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Contact: Trine Munk-Olsen
tmo@ncrr.dk
JAMA and Archives Journals
5-Dec-2006


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