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Pregnancy: The earliest opportunity for prevention and early intervention for mental disorders

Boyce, P., Galbally, M.ORCID: 0000-0003-3909-1918 and Gregoire, A. (2018) Pregnancy: The earliest opportunity for prevention and early intervention for mental disorders. In: Bhugra, D., Bhui, K., Wong, S.Y.S. and Gilman, S.E., (eds.) Oxford Textbook of Public Mental Health. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 383-388.

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The application of public health approaches, including universal and targeted interventions during pregnancy, can have long-term mental health benefits for women and the next generation. Access to good antenatal care, ensuring women have adequate nutrition and micronutrients, a healthy lifestyle (in particular avoiding smoking), and being immunized against flu may reduce the risk of the fetus developing disorders with a neurodevelopmental origin, in particular schizophrenia and, to a lesser extent, bipolar disorder. The identification of and early intervention in common mental health problems among pregnant women and identifying potentially modifiable risk factors during pregnancy will reduce morbidity in women and may help prevent postpartum mental disorders. Such strategies will also optimize fetal development and reduce the risk of subsequent mental disorders in infants. Finally, pregnancy is also a time when interventions can be applied to minimize the risk of disorders, such as bipolar disorder, relapsing following childbirth.

Item Type: Book Chapter
Publisher: Oxford University Press
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