Long-term outcome of offspring after maternal severe puerperal disorder


R. Abbott, Research Associate, Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, Box 189, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge CB2 2QQ, UK.
E-mail: raa25@medschl.cam.ac.uk


Objective:  To study adult mental health in offspring of mothers who experienced severe puerperal disorder.

Method:  Mothers, followed up a mean of 23 years after puerperal disorder requiring hospitalization, were interviewed regarding adult psychiatric illness, childhood neurotic symptoms and conduct problems of 48 offspring of the index episode and 62 additional siblings.

Results:  In these predominantly young adults the lifetime rate of ICD-10 adult psychiatric illness was 26%, and was higher in offspring of puerperal episodes (35% vs. 15%, P = 0.07). There were also high rates of childhood symptoms and problems.

Conclusion:  There are high lifetime rates of adult psychiatric illness in young adult offspring of mothers with puerperal disorder, which are likely to increase further with time, and warrant special attention.