Bipolar Disorder and Pregnancy

Unfortunately the mood stabilizers most commonly used to treat bipolar disorder (including lithium and valproic acid) can increase the risk of certain types of birth defects or congenital malformations in children exposed to these medications during the first trimester of pregnancy. For this reason, many women with bipolar disorder choose to discontinue maintenance treatment during pregnancy. However, we have observed very high rates of illness during pregnancy among these women who discontinue treatment; over half of the women relapse, most frequently during the first trimester.