Parapartum mental illness: an interview follow-up study


  • M. Bågedahl-Strindlund

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Clinical Neuroscience and Family Medicine, Division of Psychiatry, Karolinska Institute, Huddinge University Hospital, Huddinge and Department of Psychotherapy, Stockholm City Council Institute of Psychotherapy, Stockholm, Sweden
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Margaretha Bågedahl-Strindlund, Division of Psychiatry, M56, Huddinge University Hospital, S-141 86 Huddinge, Sweden


A total of 54 parapartum mentally ill mothers and 89 controls were followed up approximately 6 years after childbirth. In total, 80% of the patients avoided further pregnancies during the follow-up period, compared to 58% of the controls (non-significant difference). One-third of the patients did not live together with their child, compared to only 3% of the controls. Index mothers tended to report more problematic relationships with their children. Poor childhood relationships during the mother's own childhood seem to be of special significance for the development of these problems. This study suggests a rather gloomy prognosis for parapartum mental illness. The suicide rate was 4.5%. In total, 22% of the patients, compared to none of the controls, had been on sick leave during the last 3 years, or had received a disability pension owing to mental illness at the time of the follow-up. The readmission rate for psychiatric in-patient care was 46% in the patient group.