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Preterm risk for mothers with bipolar disorder

Pregnant women with bipolar disorder are at increased risk of preterm birth, regardless of whether they are receiving mood stabilising drugs or not, according to a Swedish study in the BMJ online.

Previous studies have suggested that these drugs may be linked to pregnancy and birth complications, whereas little is known about adverse outcomes in untreated women with bipolar disorder.

In the latest study, researchers from Uppsala University and the Karolinska Institutet compared pregnancies in nearly 900 women with bipolar disorder against those of 330,000 other women.

Both treated and untreated bipolar mothers had a 50% increased risk of preterm birth compared with the other women.

Treated and untreated mothers with bipolar disorder also had increased risks of caesarean delivery, instrumental delivery, and a non-spontaneous start to delivery.

In addition, untreated mothers were more likely to give birth to a baby with microcephaly and with episodes of neonatal hypoglycaemia compared with non bipolar mothers.

As a reuslt, the researchers concluded that “mood-stabilising treatment is probably not the sole reason for the increased risk of adverse pregnancy and birth outcomes previously observed in mothers with bipolar disorder”.

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