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Perinatal psychiatry: a new specialty or everyone's business?

  • Jacqueline Humphreys, Janet Obeney-Williams, Rachael W. Cheung and Nisha Shah

Perinatal psychiatry is a relatively new subspecialty and controversy exists about such specialist provision. Differences can occur in how mental illnesses present in pregnancy, and there is a need to take into account both mother and baby. The risks of not treating perinatal mental illness can be both acute and chronic, and suicide in the context of untreated illness remains a leading indirect cause of maternal mortality. Despite the government's agenda of preventive healthcare, service provision is inequitable across the UK. Advice regarding treatment continues to be complex, and perinatal psychiatrists need to keep abreast of a growing evidence base. This review offers an overview of some current issues in the care of patients in the perinatal period and shows how specialised perinatal services are uniquely placed to meet their needs. Hopefully, it will prove useful to all clinicians responsible for the perinatal care of women and their families.

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Corresponding author
Dr Jacqueline Humphreys, East London NHS Foundation Trust, Perinatal Mental Health Team, Newham University Hospital, Glen Road, London E13 8SL, UK. Email:
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• Acquire increased awareness of pre-conception planning for women at risk of perinatal mental illness

• Understand the need for lower thresholds for intervention in perinatal populations

• Appreciate the particular characteristics in risk assessment in perinatal populations, taking into account the impact of perinatal psychiatric disorder on both mother and baby



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Perinatal psychiatry: a new specialty or everyone's business?

  • Jacqueline Humphreys, Janet Obeney-Williams, Rachael W. Cheung and Nisha Shah
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