Substance abuse and family history of psychiatric disorders greatly increase the risk for postpartum suicide attempts

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A recent study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology has found substance abuse and family history of psychiatric disorders to greatly increase the risk for postpartum suicide attempts. The researchers analyzed birth records from 1992 to 2001 from Washington State and identified 335 women who had been hospitalized for suicide attempts, while using another 1420 women who had not attempted suicide postpartum as controls. Women who had previously been hospitalized for a psychiatric disorder were 27 times more likely to attempt suicide postpartum. Women with a history of substance abuse problems were six times more likely to attempt suicide. Lastly, women with both a history of previous hospitalization for psychiatric disorders and substance abuse were 11 times more likely to attempt suicide postpartum. The following is an excerpt of an article from Medical News Today that discusses the study:

Writing in the article, Katherine A. Comtois, PhD, lead investigator from the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center and the University of Washington School of Medicine, states, “In the current study, we focused on preexisting psychiatric risk factors for postpartum suicide attempts resulting in hospitalization. Most importantly, a prior psychiatric or substance use diagnosis among postpartum women significantly increased the risk of a serious postpartum suicide attempt. One implication of this study is that screening for past history of psychiatric and substance use diagnoses as part of routine prenatal care may be a means of identifying women at high risk of postpartum suicide attempt, although a recent review of prenatal screening for depression cited insufficient evidence to recommend screening as a way to improve outcomes.”

Click here to read the rest of this article from Medical News Today

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