Pregnant women with bipolar disorder and their families and physicians should be aware of a significantly higher risk for developing postpartum psychosis, according to a new Northwestern Medicine review of literature on the rare and under-researched disorder.
Postpartum psychosis almost always stems from bipolar disorder but is often missed because of its rarity and lack of research on the subject, according to the review from Northwestern Medicine, Stanford University and Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands.
Compounding the problem, physicians are reluctant to prescribe lithium for breastfeeding women for fear that the drug will negatively impact the baby. However, a small number of lithium-treated mothers and breastfed babies have been studied and the infants had no adverse effects with careful followup, Wisner said. Lithium is the most effective and fast-acting drug to treat postpartum psychosis.