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Arch Womens Ment Health. 2015 Feb;18(1):1-39. doi: 10.1007/s00737-013-0389-0. Epub 2013 Nov 24.

Electroconvulsive therapy during pregnancy: a systematic review of case studies.

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  • 1Norwegian Knowledge Centre for the Health Services, Box 7004 St. Olavsplass, Pilestredet Park 7, Oslo, 0130, Norway, kle@nokc.no.

Abstract

This study aims to explore practice, use, and risk of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in pregnancy. A systematic search was undertaken in the databases Medline, Embase, PsycINFO, SveMed and CINAHL (EBSCO). Only primary data-based studies reporting ECT undertaken during pregnancy were included. Two reviewers independently checked study titles and abstracts according to inclusion criteria and extracted detailed use, practice, and adverse effects data from full text retrieved articles. Studies and extracted data were sorted according to before and after year 1970, due to changes in ECT administration over time. A total of 67 case reports were included and studies from all continents represented. Altogether, 169 pregnant women were identified, treated during pregnancy with a mean number of 9.4 ECTs, at mean age of 29 years. Most women received ECT during the 2nd trimester and many were Para I. Main diagnostic indication in years 1970 to 2013 was Depression/Bipolar disorder (including psychotic depression). Missing data on fetus/child was 12 %. ECT parameter report was often sparse. Both bilateral and unilateral electrode placement was used and thiopental was the main anesthetic agent. Adverse events such as fetal heart rate reduction, uterine contractions, and premature labor (born between 29 and 37 gestation weeks) were reported for nearly one third (29 %). The overall child mortality rate was 7.1 %. Lethal outcomes for the fetus and/or baby had diverse associations. ECT during pregnancy is advised considered only as last resort treatment under very stringent diagnostic and clinical indications. Updated international guidelines are urgently needed.

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