Trine Munk-Olsen, M.Sc., of the University of Aarhus, Denmark and colleagues conducted a study to estimate the risk of postpartum mental disorders requiring hospital admission or outpatient contact for first-time mothers and fathers up to twelve months after becoming a parent. The researchers analyzed data from Danish health and civil service registers, which for this study included a total of 2,357,942 Danish-born persons who were followed up from their 15th birthday.

From 1973 to 2005, a total of 630,373 women and 547,431 men became parents for the first time. A total of 1,171 women and 658 men were admitted with a mental disorder to a psychiatric hospital during the first twelve months after parenthood, and the corresponding prevalence of severe mental disorders through the first three months after childbirth was 1.03 per 1,000 births for mothers and 0.37 per 1,000 births for fathers. For first-time mothers, the first weeks and months after the delivery were associated with an increased risk of first admission with any mental disorder, and the period from ten to 19 days following the birth was associated with the highest risk (7.3 times increased risk) compared with women who had given birth eleven to twelve months previously.

The increased risk of admission among mothers remained statistically significant through the first three months after childbirth regardless of age of the mother. Risk for mothers was also increased for psychiatric outpatient contacts through the first three months after childbirth, also with the highest risk occurring ten to 19 days following the birth.

Unlike motherhood, fatherhood was not associated with any increased risk of hospital admission or outpatient contact. "This may indicate that the causes of postpartum mental disorders are more strongly linked to an altered physiological process related to pregnancy and childbirth than psychosocial aspects of motherhood," the authors write.

MEDICA.de; Source: American Medical Association (AMA)