Women with mental illness at high risk of relapse after birth

Relapse prevention is of high importance, say researchers

Women with serious mental illness who give birth face about a 30% risk of relapse in the first three months post-partum, according to a new study from the UK.

The risk was significantly increased in women with a relapse during pregnancy or with two or more relapses in the two years before pregnancy, Dr Clare Taylor of Kings College London and colleagues report in Schizophrenia Research.

"Women with severe illnesses with a recent history of relapse should be warned pre-conception about the high risk of relapse," the researchers write.

The team drew its data from a National Health Service trust that provides multiple services, including mental health care and perinatal care, to a population of about 1.2 million in London.

Serious mental illness was categorised as affective (bipolar affective disorder, psychotic depression and previous post-partum psychosis) or non-affective (schizophrenia,