Detection and management of eating disorders during pregnancy

Obstet Gynecol. 2000 Jun;95(6 Pt 1):942-6. doi: 10.1016/s0029-7844(00)00792-4.


Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are associated with potential negative consequences during pregnancy, including higher rates of miscarriage, low birth weight, obstetric complications, and postpartum depression. Women with eating disorders are reluctant to disclose symptoms to health care providers, so it is important for obstetric clinicians to be aware of warning signs and assessment techniques to identify them. Signs suggestive of eating disorders include lack of weight gain, hyperemesis gravidarum, and a history of eating disorders. Recent studies showed that the Eating Disorder Examination, a newly developed assessment tool, can ascertain whether someone has an eating disorder. Questions from the Eating Disorder Examination about body image, food avoidance, food rules, and dieting behaviors have successfully differentiated women with eating disorders from healthy controls. We offer an approach to the clinical care of individuals identified or suspected of having eating disorders. We recommend a team approach that emphasizes ongoing communication and clear goal setting for the care of pregnant women with eating disorders.

MeSH terms

  • Birth Weight
  • Depression, Postpartum / etiology
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Patient Care Team
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / diagnosis*
  • Pregnancy Complications / therapy*
  • Weight Gain