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9 November 2012
Pregnancy risks for bipolar moms quantified

Preterm birth and problems related to fetal growth restriction are just two of the risks bipolar women face in pregnancy, according to researchers in the British Medical Journal.

Bipolar disorder (manic depression) is a serious, long term condition involving extreme mood swings. Treatment with mood stabilizing drugs can help but previous studies have suggested that these drugs may be linked to pregnancy and birth complications.

In the new study, researchers from Uppsala University and the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden investigated the risks of adverse outcomes in both treated and untreated women with bipolar disorder.

The study involved 320 mothers undergoing treatment for bipolar disorder and 554 untreated mothers. The researchers noted that mothers with bipolar disorder are more often smokers, overweight and alcohol or substance abusers than non-bipolar mothers. Importantly, the results were adjusted for these factors.

The results showed that both treated and untreated mothers with bipolar disorder had increased risks of caesarean delivery, instrumental delivery (use of a vacuum or forceps). The increased risk was about the same whether the mother was being treated or not. Both groups also had a 50 percent increased risk of preterm birth compared with non-bipolar mothers.

The researchers conclude that "mood-stabilizing treatment is probably not the sole reason for the increased risk of adverse pregnancy and birth outcomes previously observed in mothers with bipolar disorder." They also suggest that the role of treatment is still unclear as the overall outcomes "did not show a significant difference between untreated and treated mothers."

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Source: British Medical Journal

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