Course and predictors of maternal eating disorders in the postpartum period


  • Supported by National Institutes of Health grants HD047186, NO–ES–75558, and 1 U01 NS 047537-01, the Norwegian Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education and Research, and the Norwegian Research Council/FUGE grant 151918/S10/NIEHS, NIH/NINDS, and Norwegian Research Council/FUGE.



To investigate course and predictors of eating disorders in the postpartum period.


A total of 77,807 women, participating in the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study (MoBa), completed questionnaires during pregnancy including items covering DSM-IV criteria for prepregnancy anorexia nervosa (AN), bulimia nervosa (BN), eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS-P), and binge eating disorder (BED). Additional questionnaires were completed at 18 and 36 months postpartum.


Proportions of women remitting at 18 months and 36 months postpartum were 50% and 59% for AN, 39% and 30% for BN, 46% and 57% for EDNOS-P, and 45% and 42% for BED, respectively. However, disordered eating persisted in a substantial proportion of women meeting criteria for either full or subthreshold eating disorders. BN during pregnancy increased the risk for continuation of BN. BMI and psychological distress were significantly associated with course of BED.


This is the first large-scale population-based study on course of eating disorders in the postpartum period. The results indicated that disordered eating persists in a substantial proportion of women with prepregnancy eating disorders. Health care professionals working with women in this phase of life need to pay specific attention to eating disorder symptoms and behaviors. © 2013 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. (Int J Eat Disord 2013)