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A Journal on Psychiatry, Psychology and Psychopharmacology

Official Journal of the Italian Society of Social Psychiatry
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Minerva Psichiatrica 2010 September;51(3):161-75

language: English

Obstetric outcomes amongst women with a history of anorexia nervosa

Easter A., Taborelli E., Micali N.

Section of Eating Disorders Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, UK


Anorexia nervosa (AN) typically affects women during their childbearing years. Despite known problems with fertility, women with AN can and do become pregnant. Symptoms of AN tend to improve during pregnancy; however, they do not re-emit completely and commonly resurge during the postpartum period. AN can affect obstetrics at various stages including: reproduction, the pre-natal period, birth and the post-partum period. The risk of obstetric complications (such as miscarriages, prematurity and low birth weight) is high in women with AN. The postpartum period also represents a time of significant risk, not only for the resumption of eating disorder (ED) behaviours but also for postnatal depression and potential feeding and attachment difficulties with their offspring. The aim of this manuscript is to review the current literature on women with AN during the whole obstetric process; from conception to the postpartum period. Based on the current evidence three potential broad categories of risk mechanisms for obstetric complications in women with AN are considered. This paper concludes by highlighting clinical recommendations for managing women with ED during pregnancy and the post-partum period.

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