Background: Previous cross-sectional studies have highlighted a number of obstetric variables that may be associated with the development of broadly defined puerperal (post-partum) psychosis. These include: (a) primiparity, (b) pregnancy complications, (c) delivery complications, (d) Caesarean section, (e) female baby and (f) shorter gestation period.
Aims: To examine these risk factors in women with well-characterised bipolar affective puerperal psychosis.
Method: A sample of 129 women with bipolar affective puerperal psychosis were investigated using a design that takes advantage of within-subject comparisons of affected and unaffected deliveries.
Results: Two of the variables studied were independently associated with an episode of puerperal psychosis: primiparity (odds ratio=3.76, P < 0.001) and delivery complications (odds ratio=2.68, P=0.022).
Conclusions: This study provides further evidence of the association between primiparity and puerperal psychosis and suggests that complications during delivery may be associated with a severe post-partum episode.