Women with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are at greater risk of developing mental illness after giving birth compared to the overall female population, a recent study suggests. As part of the study, researchers found that more than one-fifth of pregnant women with IBD had a new-onset mental health diagnosis. The research found that for every 43 pregnancies, there is one extra case of mental illness in a woman with IBD, compared to other women.
Inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD, is a group of chronic gastrointestinal disorders in which people have ulceration, inflammation, and bleeding of their gastrointestinal tract, and are at risk for complications in other parts of the body.
People with IBD have an elevated risk of mental illness, especially anxiety and depression, potentially related to the inflammation in the gut affecting their brain, the study suggested.
“There’s increasing awareness about mental illness in women during pregnancy and postpartum,” said Eric Benchimol, senior author on the paper which was published in journal Gut.
“We found the risk to be elevated during the post-partum period for women with IBD, particularly in the first 90 days after birth. We did not find an elevated risk during pregnancy,” Benchimol added.
According to the researchers, there is a small but significantly increased risk of new-onset mental illness in women with IBD.
Women with IBD face increased health challenges during pregnancy and after giving birth, and it’s not just physical challenges. The study suggests that there is a need to look at both the physical and mental health needs of women and ensure that they are getting the best treatment and support.