Public Release: 

Researchers examine postpartum hospital readmissions for women with psychiatric conditions

Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 15% of women develop postpartum depression. Postpartum psychiatric diseases occur on a continuum and extreme manifestations are life-threatening and require hospitalization. Yet, until recently, the timing for postpartum psychiatric readmissions was not well understood by obstetric care providers or mental health professionals.

In a study to be presented on February 16, 2019, at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine's (SMFM) annual meeting, The Pregnancy Meeting™, researchers will unveil findings that detail the timing of postpartum psychiatric readmissions. Unlike postpartum readmissions for medical or obstetric complications, psychiatric readmissions were least likely to occur in the first 10 days after discharge. Instead, psychiatric readmissions take place later in the postpartum period.

The study also demonstrated that women with a psychiatric diagnosis at the time of delivery were nearly 10 times more likely to be readmitted to the hospital for a psychiatric condition in the postpartum period. Younger women (15-19 years old), women with multiple gestations, low-income women, and women utilizing public insurance (Medicaid/Medicare) are also at a significantly increased risk of readmission.

"Our research suggests that the standard postpartum visit may not be appropriate for certain women," said Alexander Friedman, MD, MPH, author of the abstract and assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. "Obstetric care providers should be aware of the risk factors for psychiatric readmissions and work to optimize postpartum care for at-risk women."

The research was done using the Nationwide Readmission Database from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. It examined medical records from 17.2 million births from 2010-2014.


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