Risk of major adverse perinatal outcomes in women with eating disorders

Br J Psychiatry. 2007 Mar;190:255-9. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.106.020768.


Background: Low birth weight, prematurity and higher miscarriage rates have previously been reported in women with eating disorders.

Aims: To determine whether women with a history of eating disorders are at higher risk of major adverse perinatal outcomes.

Methods: Adjusted birth weight, preterm delivery and miscarriage history were compared in those with a history of eating disorders (anorexia nervosa (n=171), bulimia nervosa (n=199) and both (n=82)) and those with other (n=1166) and no psychiatric disorders (n=10 636) in a longitudinal cohort study.

Results: The group with bulimia nervosa had significantly higher rates of past miscarriages (relative risk ratio 2.0, P=0.01) and the group with anorexia nervosa delivered babies of significantly lower birth weight than the general population (P=0.01), which was mainly explained by lower pre-pregnancy body mass index. Preterm delivery rates were comparable across groups.

Conclusions: Women with a history of eating disorders are at higher risk of major adverse obstetric outcomes. Antenatal services should be aware of this higher risk.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anorexia Nervosa / complications*
  • Birth Weight / physiology
  • Body Mass Index
  • Bulimia Nervosa / complications*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / psychology*
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Risk Factors