Recognising the symptoms: How common are eating disorders in pregnancy?
About this resource
OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to investigate eating disorder diagnostic status and related symptoms in early pregnancy. METHODS: Pregnant women (n=739), attending their first routine antenatal scan, were assessed using an adapted version of the Eating Disorder Diagnostic Scale (EDDS). Prevalence estimates and eating disorder symptoms were assessed during the first 3 months of pregnancy and, retrospectively, in the 6 to 12 months prior to pregnancy. RESULTS: During pregnancy 7.5% of women met diagnostic criteria for an eating disorder, compared to prepregnancy prevalence of 9.2%. Approximately one quarter (23.4%) of women reported high weight and shape concern during pregnancy; binge eating was endorsed by 8.8%, and 2.3% of women engaged in regular compensatory behaviours. CONCLUSIONS: Eating disorders are more common than previously thought in pregnancy. There is a clinical need for increased understanding of eating disorder symptomatology during pregnancy and for appropriate screening tools to be incorporated into antenatal care.
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