Eating disorders (ED) are associated with adverse pregnancy outcome and pregnancy is associated with both relapse and remission of ED. Knowledge is lacking on the risk of ED relapse during pregnancy and the postpartum period for women in stable remission. This study examined the occurrence of perinatal ED relapse as well as obstetric and postpartum outcome in women with at least a 6-month ED remission before pregnancy.
A total of 122 women in stable remission before pregnancy were included in a prospective longitudinal study. Changes in ED symptoms based on the Eating Disorder Examination were systematically evaluated at each antenatal visit and in the postpartum period.
A total of 30 (25%) women relapsed. Twenty women relapsed within the first 20 weeks of pregnancy and eight in the early weeks postpartum. Severe postpartum depression symptoms (33%) were frequent in women with ED relapse; hyperemesis gravidarum (30%) was frequently present independent of the woman’s relapse status.
To prevent relapse of ED and possible consequences, attention to relapse in women in stable remission is especially important in early pregnancy and in the postpartum period.