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Can J Psychiatry. 2002 Jun;47(5):426-36.

Managing bipolar disorder during pregnancy: weighing the risks and benefits.

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  • 1Perinatal and Reproductive Psychiatry Program, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.



Challenges for the clinical management of bipolar disorder (BD) during pregnancy are multiple and complex and include competing risks to mother and offspring.


We reviewed recent research findings on the course of BD during pregnancy and postpartum, as well as reproductive safety data on the major mood stabilizers.


Pregnancy, and especially the postpartum period, are associated with a high risk for recurrence of BD. This risk appears to be limited by mood-stabilizing treatments and markedly increased by the abrupt discontinuation of such treatments. However, drugs used to treat or protect against recurrences of BD vary markedly in teratogenic potential: there are low risks with typical neuroleptics, moderate risks with lithium, higher risks with older anticonvulsants such as valproic acid and carbamazepine, and virtually unknown risks with other newer-generation anticonvulsants and atypical antipsychotics (ATPs).


Clinical management of BD through pregnancy and postpartum calls for balanced assessments of maternal and fetal risks and benefits.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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