The prevalence and correlates of self-harm in pregnant women with psychotic disorder and bipolar disorder

CL Taylor, Leontien Ravesteyn, Mijke Lambregtse - van den Berg, RJ Stewart, LM Howard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)
14 Downloads (Pure)


Women with severe mental illness are at increased risk of suicide in the perinatal period, and these suicides are often preceded by self-harm, but little is known about self-harm and its correlates in this population. This study aimed to investigate the prevalence of suicidal ideation and self-harm, and its correlates, in women with psychotic disorders and bipolar disorder during pregnancy. Historical cohort study using de-identified secondary mental healthcare records linked with national maternity data. Women pregnant from 2007 to 2011, with ICD-10 diagnoses of schizophrenia and related disorders, bipolar disorder or other affective psychoses were identified. Data were extracted from structured fields, natural language processing applications and free text. Logistic regression was used to examine the correlates of self-harm in pregnancy. Of 420 women, 103 (24.5 %) had a record of suicidal ideation during the first index pregnancy, with self-harm recorded in 33 (7.9 %). Self-harm was independently associated with younger age (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 0.91, 95 % CI 0.85-0.98), self-harm in the previous 2 years (aOR 2.55; 1.05-6.50) and smoking (aOR 3.64; 1.30-10.19). A higher prevalence of self-harm was observed in women with non-affective psychosis, those who discontinued or switched medication and in women on no medication at the start of pregnancy, but these findings were not statistically significant in multivariable analyses. Suicidal thoughts and self-harm occur in a significant proportion of pregnant women with severe mental illness, particularly younger women and those with a history of self-harm; these women need particularly close monitoring for suicidality.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)909-915
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of Womens Mental Health
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Research programs

  • EMC ONWAR-01-58-02

Cite this