Women at perinatal stage have suicidal tendencies

Picture for representation only

Two mothers and as many infants are reported dead among the 909 mothers and children registered under the Banashankari Primary Health Centre, who were part of a first-of-its-kind Nimhans health study.

While one woman committed suicide during the postpartum period, the other had health issues. The infants also reportedly died of health complications.

The National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences has been following 909 women from the lower income groups in Bengaluru during the pregnancy and early postpartum period as part of the "Prospective Assessment of Maternal Mental Health Cohort Study"  (PRAMMS).

Dr Prabha S Chandra, professor and head, department of psychiatry at Nimhans, said the perinatal stage is a less understood phase of pregnancy and childbirth.

"Women experience mental health issues during pregnancy and postpartum, which affect their children in the long run," she said. "In India, we still keep blaming anaemia and nutrition, but a study says suicide could be the major cause of maternal mortality even in developed countries." 

In the pregnancy stage, suicidal ideation and attempts are a primary concern, which is caused by ongoing violence with the partner, history of suicidal ideation and miscarriage.

The study, funded by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and UK's Medical Research Council, is expected to continue until the children reach the age of seven, Dr Prabha said.

Nimhans first opened the mother-child ward for perinatal care in 2009 with just about five beds. Each year, nearly 80 mothers-children are treated for perinatal mental health issues.

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