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Psychol Med. 2007 Aug;37(8):1109-18. Epub 2007 May 10.

Patterns of remission, continuation and incidence of broadly defined eating disorders during early pregnancy in the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study (MoBa).

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Department of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7160, USA.

Erratum in

  • Psychol Med. 2012 Apr;42(4):893.



We explored the course of broadly defined eating disorders during pregnancy in the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study (MoBa) at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.


A total of 41,157 pregnant women, enrolled at approximately 18 weeks' gestation, had valid data from the Norwegian Medical Birth Registry. We collected questionnaire-based diagnostic information on broadly defined anorexia nervosa (AN), and bulimia nervosa (BN), and eating disorders not otherwise specified (EDNOS). EDNOS subtypes included binge eating disorder (BED) and recurrent self-induced purging in the absence of binge eating (EDNOS-P). We explored rates of remission, continuation and incidence of BN, BED and EDNOS-P during pregnancy.


Prepregnancy prevalence estimates were 0.1% for AN, 0.7% for BN, 3.5% for BED and 0.1% for EDNOS-P. During early pregnancy, estimates were 0.2% (BN), 4.8% (BED) and 0.1% (EDNOS-P). Proportions of individuals remitting during pregnancy were 78% (EDNOS-P), 40% (BN purging), 39% (BED), 34% (BN any type) and 29% (BN non-purging type). Additional individuals with BN achieved partial remission. Incident BN and EDNOS-P during pregnancy were rare. For BED, the incidence rate was 1.1 per 1000 person-weeks, equating to 711 new cases of BED during pregnancy. Incident BED was associated with indices of lower socio-economic status.


Pregnancy appears to be a catalyst for remission of some eating disorders but also a vulnerability window for the new onset of broadly defined BED, especially in economically disadvantaged individuals. Vigilance by health-care professionals for continuation and emergence of eating disorders in pregnancy is warranted.

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