, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 149-158
Date: 28 May 2008

An audit of pregnant women with severe mental illness referred during the first 2 years of a new perinatal mental health service

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Abstract

The importance of identifying pregnant women at high risk of postpartum psychotic illness has been highlighted by recent enquiries and guidelines. It has been recommended that these women are referred to perinatal mental health services, and that individualised care plans are made prior to delivery. This audit describes a cohort of 45 women, referred to a new perinatal mental health service, with a history of psychotic illness or at risk of developing a postpartum psychotic episode. It describes the characteristics of this group, and the outcomes in terms of relapse and whether their children remained in their care. Thirty-nine women (87%) were seen for assessment. Sixty-seven per cent were under the care of a community mental health team. Twenty-one (53.8%) were well at the time of referral. Planned pregnancies were uncommon (15%). All women seen antenatally had care plans written to address the high risk of postpartum relapse. Ten (26%) women had psychiatric admissions during pregnancy. Fifteen (38%) relapsed or had admissions during the first postpartum year. At 1 year postpartum, 74% women had care of their children; 18% children had been adopted or were in foster care; and the outcome was unknown for 8%.