Bipolar episodes after reproductive events in women with bipolar I disorder, A study of 919 pregnancies

Janneke Gilden, Eline M.P. Poels, Simon Lambrichts, Annabel Vreeker, Marco P.M. Boks, Roel A. Ophoff, René S. Kahn, Astrid M. Kamperman, Veerle Bergink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: Women with bipolar I disorder are at high risk for severe episodes after childbirth, but there is no study that provides an overview on bipolar episode risk both during pregnancy and after childbirth, miscarriage and induced abortion. The aim of this study was to determine the episode risk during all pregnancy outcomes subdivided by first and subsequent pregnancies. Methods: Participants were 436 women with bipolar I disorder from the Dutch Bipolar Cohort, having 919 pregnancies of which 762 resulted in a live childbirth, 118 ended in a miscarriage and 39 ended in induced abortion. Women reported on the occurrence of manic or depressed episodes during the perinatal period. Information about medication use was obtained by questionnaires. Results: Episode risk was 5.2% during pregnancy, and 30.1% in the postpartum period, with a peak in the early postpartum period. Risk of an episode was highest after live birth (34.4%), and lower after miscarriage (15.2%) and induced abortion (27.8%). Women with an episode during pregnancy or postpartum were less likely to have a second child compared to women with an uneventful first pregnancy (cOR=0.34; 95%CI: 0.22-0.51; p<0.001); if they had a second child their risk of an episode was significantly elevated with a subsequent pregnancy (cOR=6.17; 95%CI: 3.64-10.45; p<0.001). Limitations: Retrospective cross-sectional design with assessment (partial) through self-report in a homogeneous population. Conclusions: Women with bipolar I disorder have a six times higher risk of an episode after delivery compared to during pregnancy, therefore preventive strategies are particularly important immediately after delivery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-79
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2021


  • Bipolar disorder
  • Lithium
  • Peripartum period
  • Postpartum period
  • Pregnancy
  • Recurrence


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