A history of anorexia nervosa does not appear to be significantly associated with pregnancy complications or negative birth outcomes, according to a study by Swedish researchers.
There is some evidence that prior anorexia may increase the risk of complications in the mother or child. To investigate further, Dr. Cecilia Ekeus of the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm and colleagues analyzed data on more than 827,000 first-time moms who gave birth in Sweden between 1983 and 1996.
Of these, 1000 had been hospitalized at least once for anorexia nervosa between 1973 and 1996.
Overall, the main birth outcome measures were very similar between groups, the team found.
There was a modestly but statistically significant lower average birthweight among infants in the anorexia group compared to the others (3387 grams versus 3431 grams).
However, there was also a significantly lower adjusted odds ratio for forceps delivery in the anorexia group.
The researchers conclude that the outcome of pregnancy and delivery “may be just as good for women with a history of anorexia nervosa as for the general population.”
Ekeus and colleagues suggest that special obstetric monitoring is not warranted for women with a history of anorexia when routine maternal surveillance is satisfactory.
Specialized maternity care, the researchers advise, “may be called for only when there are current signs of anorexia nervosa,” or of related problems.
SOURCE: BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, August 2006.
Revision date: July 7, 2011
Last revised: by Andrew G. Epstein, M.D.