Pregnant women with bulimia are more likely to have symptoms of anxiety and depression, according to a new study.
The study from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) shows that they also have lower self-esteem and are more dissatisfied with life and their relationship with their partner.
The findings come from the world's first major population study of psychosocial factors in bulimia (bulimia nervosa) during pregnancy.
Bulimia in pregnancy can have serious consequences for both mother and child.
The study includes more than 41 000 pregnant women who responded to a questionnaire from the Norwegian Mother and Child Study (MoBa) from the NIPH.
Out of more than 41 000 pregnant women, 96 met the criteria for broadly defined bulimia (bulimia nervosa) in the first trimester of pregnancy.
Sixty seven of the women reported that they had also had bulimia six months before pregnancy, while 26 had developed bulimia after becoming pregnant. It is unknown whether these women had bulimia earlier in life.
Women with bulimia reported lower self-esteem and less satisfaction with life and their relationship with their partner. In addition, they reported a higher prevalence of symptoms associated with anxiety and depression.
Women with bulimia reported a higher prevalence of life-long physical abuse, sexual abuse and major depression compared with others, says Cecilie Knoph Berg at the Division of Mental Health at the NIPH.
Bulimia was measured six months before pregnancy and in the first trimester of pregnancy by completing the questionnaire in the first trimester.
Knoph Berg is the first author of "Psychosocial factors associated with broadly-defined bulimia nervosa during early pregnancy: Findings from the Norwegian mother and child cohort study".
The study has been published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry.