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Perinatal health of women with intellectual and developmental disabilities and comorbid mental illness


Objective — Women with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) have high rates of adverse perinatal outcomes. However, the perinatal health of women with co-occurring IDD and mental illness (dual diagnosis) is largely unknown. Our objectives were to 1) describe a cohort of women with dual diagnosis in terms of their social and health characteristics and 2) compare their risks for adverse maternal and neonatal outcomes to those of women with IDD only.

Method — We conducted a population-based study using linked Ontario (Canada) health and social services administrative data to identify singleton obstetric deliveries to women with dual diagnosis (n = 2080) and women with IDD only (n = 1852; 2002–2012). Primary maternal outcomes were gestational diabetes, gestational hypertension, preeclampsia/eclampsia, and venous thromboembolism. Primary neonatal outcomes were preterm birth, small for gestational age, and large for gestational age. We also examined several secondary outcomes.

Results — Women with dual diagnosis were more likely than women with IDD only to live in poor neighborhoods and to have prepregnancy health conditions; however, they had more frequent prenatal care. Infants born to women with dual diagnosis had increased risks for preterm birth (adjusted relative risk [aRR] 1.31, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.08 to 1.59) and neonatal morbidity (aRR 1.35, 95% CI 1.03 to 1.76) compared with infants born to women with IDD only. All other primary and secondary outcomes were nonsignificant.

Conclusions — Comorbid mental illness contributes little additional risk for adverse perinatal outcomes among women with IDD. Women with dual diagnosis and women with IDD alone require increased surveillance for maternal and neonatal complications.



Brown HK, Cobigo V, Lunsky Y, Dennis CL, Vigod S. Can J Psychiatry. 2016; 61(11):714-23. Epub 2016 May 5.

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