The course of bipolar disorder in pregnant versus non-pregnant women

Anja W M M Stevens, Stasja Draisma, Peter J J Goossens, Birit F P Broekman, Adriaan Honig, Elise A M Knoppert-van der Klein, Willem A Nolen, Robert M Post, R W Kupka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


BACKGROUND AND RATIONALE: Although it has been suggested that pregnancy may influence the course of bipolar disorder (BD), studies show contradictory results. Until now, no studies included a finegrained validated method to report mood symptoms on a daily basis, such as the lifechart method (LCM). The aim of the present study is to investigate the course of BD during pregnancy by comparing LCM scores of pregnant and non-pregnant women.

METHODS: Study design: Comparison of LCM scores of two prospective observational BD cohort studies, a cohort of pregnant women (n = 34) and a cohort of non-pregnant women of childbearing age (n = 52). Main study parameters are: (1) proportions of symptomatic and non-symptomatic days; (2) symptom severity, frequency, and duration of episodes; (3) state sequences, longitudinal variation of symptom severity scores.

RESULTS: No differences in clinical course variables (symptomatic days, average severity scores, frequency, and duration of episodes in BD were found between pregnant and non-pregnant women. With a combination of State Sequence Analysis (SSA) and cluster analysis on the sequences of daily mood scores three comparable clusters were found in both samples: euthymic, moderately ill and severely ill. The distribution differences between pregnant and non-pregnant women were significant, with a majority of the pregnant women (68%) belonging to the moderately ill cluster and a majority of the non-pregnant women (46%) to the euthymic cluster. In pregnant women the average daily variation in mood symptoms as assessed with Shannon's entropy was less than in non-pregnant women (respectively 0.43 versus 0.56).

CONCLUSIONS: Although the use of daily mood scores revealed no difference in overall course of BD in pregnant versus non-pregnant women, more pregnant than non-pregnant women belonged to the moderately ill cluster, and during pregnancy the variation in mood state was less than in non-pregnant women. Further research is necessary to clarify these findings.

Original languageEnglish
Article number35
Pages (from-to)35
JournalInternational Journal of Bipolar Disorders
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Bipolar disorder
  • Course
  • Life chart method
  • Pregnancy

Cite this