Maternal and neonatal outcomes after attempted suicide

Obstet Gynecol. 2006 May;107(5):984-90. doi: 10.1097/01.AOG.0000216000.50202.f6.


Objective: The purpose of this study was to describe identifiers and estimate maternal and neonatal outcomes in women who attempt suicide during pregnancy.

Methods: A linked Vital Statistics-Patient Discharge database of the State of California was used to identify cases of intentional injury during pregnancy. A retrospective analysis of maternal and neonatal outcomes in pregnant women who were admitted for attempted suicide is presented.

Results: There were 4,833,286 deliveries in California from 1991 to 1999. Of those deliveries, 2,132 were complicated by attempted suicide during pregnancy (0.4 per 1,000 pregnancies). The control population was composed of patients who did not attempt suicide. The group of women that attempted suicide during pregnancy had increases in premature labor, cesarean delivery, and need for blood transfusion. Analysis of neonatal outcomes revealed increases in respiratory distress syndrome and low birth weight infants. A subanalysis, including women who delivered at the hospitalization for attempted suicide, demonstrated increased premature delivery, respiratory distress syndrome, and neonatal and infant death.

Conclusion: Attempted suicide is associated with significantly higher rates of maternal and perinatal morbidity, and in some cases, perinatal mortality. The best identifier for women at risk for attempting suicide is substance abuse. Care provider identification and prevention are of key importance in preventing these outcomes.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cesarean Section
  • Female
  • Fetal Distress / etiology
  • Humans
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / psychology*
  • Pregnancy Outcome*
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome, Newborn / etiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Suicide, Attempted*