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Eating disorders tied to post-baby blues

Eating disorders tied to post-baby blues Mon May 29, 11:30 AM ET
The risk of postpartum depression is higher among women with binge eating disorder or bulimia nervosa, according to findings from a large study.

The risk of becoming depressed after baby arrives is also higher in women who are perfectionists, the study hints.

The findings, reported in the International Journal of Eating Disorders, are based on evaluations of more than 1,100 women who had each given birth to one or more children.

Dr. Suzanne E. Masseo, from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, and colleagues observed that symptoms of depression during pregnancy, “baby blues,” and postpartum depression were higher among women with eating disorders.

Bulimia nervosa raised the odds of postpartum depression more than threefold while binge-eating disorder raised the odds more than twofold.

In fact, “women with eating disorders appear to be at as much, if not greater, risk for developing depression during pregnancy or postpartum as are women with a history of major depressive disorder,” Masseo and colleagues report.

They also found that, after correcting for lifetime major depression, postpartum depression correlated with concern over mistakes and doubts about one’s abilities.

“These findings suggest that, among individuals who reported symptoms of postpartum depression…the severity of these symptoms may be accounted for by specific aspects of perfectionism, primarily concern over making mistakes.”

Masseo’s team advises doctors to ask pregnant patients about their histories of eating disorders and assess the features of perfectionism, since these traits help “to identify at-risk individuals, and facilitate primary prevention of postpartum depression.”

“Given the significant impact that postpartum depression can have on the health of both mothers and their offspring, as well as the effectiveness of treatment, early detection and treatment appear invaluable,” they write.

SOURCE: International Journal of Eating Disorders April 2006.

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