Pregnancy Affected by Eating Disorders
Women with anorexia nervosa, bulimia, both conditions, or a history of eating disorders experienced more fertility problems, unplanned pregnancies, and negative feelings about having a children than women with no such history, a new study from the United Kingdom found.
Researchers from King's College London and the University College London looked at data from surveys of more than 11,000 pregnant women, including around 500 who had a history of anorexia nervosa, bulimia, or both disorders.
39 percent of those with a history of eating disorders took longer than six months to conceive, and the same group was twice as likely as the control group to have received treatment to help them conceive.
41 percent of women with past or current eating disorders reported that their pregnancies were unplanned, compared to 29 percent of women without a history. They were also twice as likely to report feeling unhappy about their pregnancies.
Study researcher Abigail Easter noted that findings underscore the need to provide extra support to women with current or prior eating disorders before conception and during pregnancy.
"We know that many women with a history of an eating disorder often feel unable to inform health care professionals of their illness," she told WebMD. "When planning a pregnancy or becoming pregnant we would encourage women with eating disorders, even if it was in the past, to discuss this with their doctors."