Supporting women at risk of postpartum psychosis

According to a new review published by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), women at risk of postpartum psychosis need "close monitoring" to ensure prompt treatment of the condition.

All women should receive antenatal counseling to determine if they are at risk of developing a mental illness, the report said.

Postpartum psychosis is thought to affect around one to two mothers per 1,000 deliveries, though researchers noted that the number may actually be higher. Symptoms include depression, delusions and hallucinations, and confusion - all of which pose severe risks to both mother and child.

"Women at high risk of postpartum psychosis need very careful care before conception, throughout pregnancy and during the postpartum period," said Dr Ian Jones, reader in perinatal psychiatry at Cardiff University and co-author of the review.

The researchers added that while there is strong evidence to suggest women with bipolar disorder commonly develop the condition, half of sufferers have "no family history or previous risk factors" that might alert physicians prior to delivery.