CHICAGO - Within the first three months after giving birth to their first baby, one out of 1,000 women suffers from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression or some other psychotic condition severe enough for them to be hospitalized, a major Danish study has found. The findings underscore a potentially perilous period after delivery when key hormones like estrogen and progesterone, which are elevated during pregnancy, fall precipitously, possibly triggering mental disorders in susceptible women.
"This is a really important study," said Dr. Valerie Davis-Raskin, a former associate clinical professor at the University of Chicago, who treats patients with postpartum depression. "We've had a difficult time figuring out what causes postpartum psychiatric illnesses, and I see this study as really strongly supporting a biologic, hormonal or other physical basis," said Davis-Raskin, who was not involved in the study.
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