The Psychiatric Morbidity of Women Who Give Birth to Children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD): Results of the Manitoba Mothers and FASD Study

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To investigate differences in physician-diagnosed psychiatric disorders between women who gave birth to children with a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) diagnosis (study group) compared to women who gave birth to children without FASD (comparison group).

We linked population-level health and social services data to clinical data on FASD diagnoses to identify study group (n = 702) and comparison group (n = 2097) women matched 1:3 on date of birth of index child, region of residence, and socioeconomic status. Regression modeling produced relative rates (RRs) for outcomes.

Mothers who gave birth to children with FASD had higher adjusted rates of substance use disorder (RR, 12.65; 95% confidence interval [CI], 8.99-17.80), personality disorder (RR, 12.93; 95% CI, 4.88-34.22), and mood and anxiety disorders (RR, 1.75; 95% CI, 1.49-2.07) before the pregnancy of the child. These mothers also had higher adjusted rates of maternal psychological distress during pregnancy (RR, 5.35; 95% CI, 4.58-6.35) and higher rates of postpartum psychological distress (RR, 1.71; 95% CI, 1.53-1.90). These women also had higher adjusted rates for antidepressant prescriptions before, during, and after the pregnancy.

A significant psychiatric burden exists for women giving birth to children with FASD. Clinicians should recognise the high rates of psychiatric concerns facing mothers who give birth to children with FASD and should offer treatment and support to these women to improve their health and well-being and prevent further alcohol-exposed pregnancies.

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