Every week we review the most recent publications in women’s mental health, covering topics related to premenstrual symptoms, perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, use of medications in pregnant and breastfeeding women, perinatal substance use, and menopausal mental health.

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In recognition of Eating Disorders Awareness Week, we reviewed recent articles focusing on eating disorders in perinatal women.  The bottom line is that very little research has been carried out in women with ED who are planning to conceive, pregnant, or postpartum.  The limited medical literature presented here does correlate with what we see clinically.   Women with anorexia nervosa and bulimia do seem to experience a reduction in patterns of disordered easting during pregnancy.  However, we do see recurrent ED symptoms during the postpartum period.

There are also two studies here that indicate that women with ED are more likely to have children with behavioral issues and higher levels of anxiety.  This is an area that clearly deserves further study.

Ruta Nonacs, MD PhD


Premenstrual exacerbation of mental health disorders: a systematic review of prospective studies.

Nolan LN, Hughes L. Arch Womens Ment Health. 2022 Oct;25(5):831-852.

Overall, there was mixed evidence for perimenstrual exacerbation across mental disorders, which could be partly explained by methodological limitations of the studies.


Prevalence and phenotype of eating disorders in assisted reproduction: a systematic review.

Le Floch M, Crohin A, Duverger P, Picard A, Legendre G, Riquin E. Reprod Health. 2022 Feb 7;19(1):38.

The prevalence of active ED varied between 0.13 and 44% depending on the types considered in each study. The main phenotypes described were EDNOS (eating disorder not otherwise specified) and binge eating disorders (BED) occurring in women with a normal body mass index (BMI) and a history of ED. Mainly subthreshold forms with cognitive distortions were described.


Management of anorexia nervosa in pregnancy: a systematic and state-of-the-art review.

Galbally M, Himmerich H, Senaratne S, Fitzgerald P, Frost J, Woods N, Dickinson JE. Lancet Psychiatry. 2022 May;9(5):402-412.

Psychiatric visits during the postpartum year in women with eating disorders who continue or discontinue antidepressant treatment in pregnancy.

Trinh NTH, Semark BD, Munk-Olsen T, Liu X, Rø Ø, Bulik CM, Torgersen L, Lupattelli A, Petersen LV. Int J Eat Disord. 2023 Mar;56(3):582-594.

Relapse rates were lower in women with ED who continued antidepressants across the postpartum period.

Screening instruments for eating disorders in pregnancy: Current evidence, challenges, and future directions.

Dörsam AF, Bye A, Graf J, Howard LM, Throm JK, Müller M, Wallwiener S, Zipfel S, Micali N, Giel KE. Int J Eat Disord. 2022 Sep;55(9):1208-1218.

This article provides data on the diagnostic accuracy for screening for EDs in antenatal samples from three studies with different screening approaches.

Body dissatisfaction and disordered eating in the perinatal period: an underrecognized high-risk timeframe and the opportunity to intervene.

Vanderkruik R, Ellison K, Kanamori M, Freeman MP, Cohen LS, Stice E. Arch Womens Ment Health. 2022 Aug;25(4):739-751.

Overall, 50% of women were dissatisfied with their body image; 52% were among pregnant participants and 56.2% of postpartum participants.

Development and validation across trimester of the Prenatal Eating Behaviors Screening tool.

Claydon EA, Lilly CL, Ceglar JX, Dueñas-Garcia OF. Arch Womens Ment Health. 2022 Aug; 25(4):705-716.

Findings suggest the Perinatal Eating Behaviors Screening tool can reliably and sensitively detect EDs across pregnancy trimesters with 12 questions.


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History of pre-pregnancy maternal symptoms of binge eating and childhood behavioral problems in girls and boys.

Tapp C, Mishra GD, Dobson AJ, Moss KM, Tooth LR. Int J Eat Disord. 2022 Nov;55(11):1565-1574.

A history of binge eating symptoms up to 10 years pre-pregnancy in mothers is associated with behavior problems in their girls and boys at average age of 7. However, the association is moderated by behaviors of eating disorders and social support in the mothers during childhood. Identification of ED symptoms prior to pregnancy, and then after childbirth, might enable health services to intervene to maximize child and mother outcomes.

Effect of maternal eating disorders on mother-infant quality of interaction, bonding and child temperament: A longitudinal study.

Martini MG, Taborelli E, Easter A, Bye A, Eisler I, Schmidt U, Micali N. Eur Eat Disord Rev. 2023 Mar;31(2):335-348.

This study found no differences between early mother-infant interaction and bonding in mothers with ED in comparison to healthy controls. High levels of maternal ED psychopathology were associated with high anxiety levels, higher negative affectivity, and lower extraversion in the children of ED mothers both at 1 and 2 years. Furthermore, high levels of ED psychopathology were also associated with lower effortful control at 1 year.


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