Psychological Medicine

Research Article

The social and obstetric correlates of psychiatric admission in the puerperium

R. E. Kendella1 c1, D. Renniea1 p1, J. A. Clarkea1 p2 and C. Deana1

a1 University Department of Psychiatry, Royal Edinburgh Hospital, Edinburgh

Synopsis

Computer linkage of obstetric and psychiatric record systems made it possible to identify all women resident in the city of Edinburgh who had given birth to live or stillborn children in 1971–7 and to study (a) the distribution of psychiatric admissions relative to the time of childbirth and (b) the correlates of psychiatric admission in the first 90 days after childbirth. Having a first baby, being unmarried and undergoing Caesarian section were all associated with an increased risk of admission; twin births, perinatal death and maternal age were not. It is difficult to account for these and other established relationships purely in psychological or purely in somatic terms, suggesting that influences of both kinds are probably involved in the genesis of puerperal disorders.

Correspondence:

c1 Address for correspondence: Professor R. E. Kendell, University Department of Psychiatry, Royal Edinburgh Hospital, Edinburgh EH10 SHF.

p1 Present address: MRC Unit for Epidemiological Studies in Psychiatry, Royal Edinburgh Hospital, Edinburgh EH10 5HF.

p2 Present address: Scottish Health Service, Common Services Agency, Information Services Division, Trinity Park House, South Trinity Road, Edinburgh EH5 3SQ.

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