Women's College Research Institute

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Risk of pregnancy higher among girls with mental illness

May 2014

Dr. Simone VigodAdolescent girls are at a high risk of pregnancy complications, including preterm birth, poor fetal growth and postpartum depression; however, young girls with mental illness are at an even higher risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes. Although birth rates in adolescent girls have decreased substantially in recent years, until now, fertility rates among girls with mental illness had not been studied.

Dr. Simone Vigod, a psychiatrist at Women's College Hospital and scientist at Women's College Research Institute, led the first-ever study to examine trends in fertility rates among girls with mental illness. She and her team conducted a population based study of fertility rates among girls aged 15-19 in Ontario between 1999 and 2009.

“We found that young girls with mental illness, including depression, bipolar disorder and other psychotic disorders, are three times more likely to become teenage parents than those without a major mental illness,” says Vigod. “Our findings suggest that targeted school-based programs are needed along with greater integration of reproductive health care into adolescent mental health care.”

Having targeted programs and offerings in place will help reduce teenage pregnancy and improve mother and child health outcomes.

The study was published in Pediatrics and was covered by The Globe and Mail.


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