Being pregnant and bipolar dysfunction: worldwide prescribing consensus?


Pregnant woman with drugs

Since as early because the mid-19th Century, it has been documented that for people predisposed to psychological sickness, “supply and lactation can have disastrous repercussions” (Marcé, 1858; Trede et al., 2009). Extra just lately, analysis has recommended that people with bipolar dysfunction are as much as 50% extra prone to expertise a recurrence of sickness if they don’t seem to be receiving remedy (Freeman, 2002). A potential examine by Viguera et al. (2007) corroborated this danger and located that pregnant sufferers who discontinued temper stabilising remedy had a 2.three instances better danger of recurrence of sickness and spent as much as 40% of being pregnant in an episode of sickness.

Past the standard dangers related to a relapse of bipolar sickness, an episode of unwell well being in being pregnant could impair self-care capabilities which may hurt a growing foetus. Bodén et al. (2012) discovered that untreated bipolar dysfunction will increase the danger of an toddler being born in poorer bodily situation, with issues together with microcephaly and neonatal hypoglycaemia. Moreover, sickness extending into the postnatal interval may disrupt early attachment, compromising neonatal improvement.

Conversely, psychotropic drugs that could be used for bipolar dysfunction usually are not with out dangers, reminiscent of congenital abnormalities within the foetus. Graham et al. (2017) acknowledge these dangers and assess a collection of worldwide medical pointers to find out if there’s a consensus concerning the psychotropic drug administration of bipolar dysfunction within the perinatal interval.

Untreated bipolar illness increases the risk of an infant being born in poorer physical condition.

Untreated bipolar sickness will increase the danger of an toddler being born in poorer bodily situation.


The authors carried out a literature search utilizing the search phrases ‘bipolar dysfunction’ and ‘pointers’ throughout PsycInfo, Pubmed, the Cochrane Database of Systematic Opinions and the Nationwide Guideline Clearinghouse. Inclusion was restricted to English language pointers revealed throughout the 2005-2015 interval and self-described as ‘evidence-based’.

The authors used qualitative strategies to analyse key themes referring to administration within the perinatal interval.


Eleven evidence-based pointers for bipolar dysfunction revealed by 9 skilled organisations met the search standards and have been included within the evaluation.

Temper stabilisers

The authors discovered that the majority pointers mentioned the dangers of temper stabilising drugs throughout being pregnant, together with the teratogenic danger of lithium, sodium valproate and carbamazepine. In addition they highlighted that these dangers are biggest within the first trimester.


A number of pointers agreed that lithium is the most secure possibility for people with extreme bipolar dysfunction. It could be discontinued only for the primary trimester of being pregnant for girls not planning to breastfeed. It is usually recommended that adjustments are made to lithium monitoring to replicate pregnancy-induced adjustments in glomerular filtration fee (GFR) and that lithium must be discontinued or decreased previous to supply to keep away from toxicity within the neonate. There have been inconsistent suggestions concerning the post-delivery dose of lithium to recommence.

Several guidelines agreed that lithium is the safest option for individuals with severe bipolar disorder.

A number of pointers agreed that lithium is the most secure possibility for people with extreme bipolar dysfunction.

Sodium valproate

Many pointers agreed that sodium valproate has the very best danger of main congenital malformations and make word of the foetal valproate syndrome.


The authors famous the danger of cleft lip/palate related to lamotrigine however there was inadequate proof concerning its security to advocate lamotrigine until the “potential advantages justify the danger”, on a person foundation. It was recommended to keep away from concurrent use of sodium valproate, particularly at doses >200mg.


While lithium was contraindicated, there was no consensus concerning the protection of sodium valproate, carbamazepine or lamotrigine whereas breastfeeding.

Electro-convulsive remedy

ECT was talked about as an alternative choice to temper stabilisers for sufferers with blended episodes and/or extreme sickness.


Antipsychotics have been introduced as a safer various to temper stabilisers by way of teratogenicity, however warning is critical because of the metabolic dangers (weight acquire, gestational diabetes).

Low dose haloperidol has been recommended because the most secure antipsychotic possibility. There was a scarcity of consensus among the many pointers concerning the dangers of atypical antipsychotics, because the teratogenic danger will not be but recognized.


Most pointers decided that antidepressants are pretty secure, though there’s a danger of pulmonary hypertension within the neonate and suggestion of cardiac malformations with tricyclics. Proof concerning the protection of SSRIs was conflicting, with fluoxetine showing the most suitable choice.

There was consensus that antidepressants are current in breast milk and will trigger neonatal central nervous system (CNS) dysfunction. The rules beneficial providing the antidepressants with lowest breast milk concentrations, together with sertraline, paroxetine and nortriptyline.

The authors famous that there was important variation throughout the rules concerning which gadgets have been thought-about and the interpretation of the proof. This was incongruent with their expectation that pointers that declare to be ‘evidence-based’ can be extra constant. They thought-about that these variations doubtless replicate the various views of various consultants deciphering the proof.

Lithium was contraindicated in breastfeeding and there was no consensus regarding the safety of sodium valproate, carbamazepine or lamotrigine.

Lithium was contraindicated in breastfeeding and there was no consensus concerning the protection of sodium valproate, carbamazepine or lamotrigine.


The authors concluded that there’s a:

low degree of settlement between the rules on the dangers posed by [psychotropic] drugs, thus compromising medical recommendation and prescribing methods.

Strengths and limitations

A serious energy of this examine is the inclusion of a multinational pattern pointers. Nevertheless, solely pointers written within the English language have been included, which limits the robustness of a world comparability of prescribing apply.

The authors acknowledged that the rules they included had variable publication dates, which undermines the validity of their comparability. Newer pointers are prone to have extra updated proof, which contributed to the variability in suggestions.

Additional, the authors meant to incorporate pointers that have been evidence-based. Nevertheless, given the moral points surrounding randomised managed trials throughout being pregnant and the puerperium, a lot of the proof was based mostly on retrospective stories and case research, leaving extra room for professional interpretation and affect.

Why are 'evidence-based' guidelines not more consistent? Variations likely reflect the varied views of different expert guideline authors interpreting the evidence.

Why are ‘evidence-based’ pointers no more constant? Variations doubtless replicate the various views of various professional guideline authors deciphering the proof.

Implications for apply

Pointers are constant in commenting that on account of elevated glomerular filtration fee (GFR) in being pregnant, serum lithium concentrations are extra variable and require extra frequent monitoring. The Administration of Bipolar Dysfunction Working Group (2010) advocate monitoring serum lithium focus initially each 2-Four weeks, weekly within the final month, then each few days simply previous to supply, with applicable dose adjustment.

The authors reported that throughout the rules, the best danger was related to use of sodium valproate. The UK Medicines and Healthcare merchandise Regulatory Company (MHRA, 2018) have banned the usage of sodium valproate throughout being pregnant, mentioned within the ‘valproate toolkit’.

The authors made a number of strategies to enhance future pointers and apply, together with:

  • Extra common updates
  • The event of worldwide requirements for proof included in perinatal pointers
  • An open declaration the place any suggestions are based mostly on committee members’ consensus and never strong proof.
The UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency have banned the use of sodium valproate during pregnancy.

The UK Medicines and Healthcare merchandise Regulatory Company have banned the usage of sodium valproate throughout being pregnant.

Conflicts of curiosity

The creator has no conflicts of curiosity to declare.


Major paper

Graham, R. Ok., Tavella, G., & Parker, G. B. (2018). Is there consensus across international evidence-based guidelines for the psychotropic drug management of bipolar disorder during the perinatal period? Journal of Affective Problems, 228, 216–221.

Different references

Bodén, R., Lundgren, M., Brandt, L., Reutfors, J., Andersen, M., & Kieler, H. (2012). Risks of adverse pregnancy and birth outcomes in women treated or not treated with mood stabilisers for bipolar disorder: population based cohort study. BMJ (Medical Analysis Ed.), 345, e7085.

Iqbal, M. M., Sohhan, T., & Mahmud, S. Z. (2001). The effects of lithium, valproic acid, and carbamazepine during pregnancy and lactation. Journal of Toxicology. Medical Toxicology, 39(Four), 381–392. Retrieved from

Administration of Bipolar Dysfunction Working Group. (2010). VA/DoD clinical practice guideline for management of bipolar disorder in adultsDivision of Veterans Affairs, Division of Protection, Washington.

Marcé L-V. (1858). Traité de la folie des femmes enceintes, des nouvelles accouchées et des nourrices et considérations médico-légales qui se rattachent à ce sujet. Paris: Baillière. [facsimile edition (Paris: L’Harmattan Publishers, 2002)]

New toolkit supports better understanding of the risks of valproate and pregnancy. (2018). Retrieved March 09, 2019, from

Trede, Ok., Baldessarini, R. J., Viguera, A. C., & Bottéro, A. (2009). Treatise on Madness in Pregnant, Postpartum, and Lactating Ladies (1858) by Louis-Victor Marcé. Harvard Overview of Psychiatry, 17(2), 157–165.

Viguera, A. C., Whitfield, T., Baldessarini, R. J., Newport, D. J., Stowe, Z., Reminick, A., … Cohen, L. S. (2007). Risk of Recurrence in Women With Bipolar Disorder During Pregnancy: Prospective Study of Mood Stabilizer Discontinuation. American Journal of Psychiatry, 164(12), 1817–1824.

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