Essay on Pregnancy and Eating Disorders

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Pregnancy and Eating Disorders

Concerns about gaining weight and retaining a youthful figure are expressed by many pregnant women. When there has been a history of anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa, weight gain and body shape changes accompanying pregnancy can provoke extreme distress (Rand et al., 1987). Very little is known about the impact of pregnancy on women with anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa. Despite the fact that amenorrhea, the lack of menstruation, and infertility are common features of these syndromes, some women have been able to conceive, even at below normal body weight (Lemberg & Phillips, 1989). Information is lacking in general on psychological impact on the mother-to-be as well as on the course of pregnancy
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Consequently, their babies had significantly lower birth weights and lower 5-minute Apgar scores than the babies of the women who were in remission (Franko & Walton, 1993).

Lacey and Smith (1987) investigated the pregnancies and fetal outcomes of 20 normal-weight bulimic women in the largest study to date. Consistent with both studies by Blinder and Hagman (1984) and Namir et al. (1986), they reported a significant reduction in the eating disorder symptoms in the majority of women during the course of the pregnancy, with 75% having a complete cessation of bingeing and purging by the third trimester. Also, consistent with previous reports, the majority of women regressed in the postpartum period (Psychological Medicine, 1991). However, the authors note that a full 25% of the sample appeared to be cured of their eating disorder symptoms. Despite a significant reduction in the binge-purge behavior, the authors reported significant fetal abnormality involving a cleft pallet child, another with a cleft lip, and higher than average pregnancy complications, multiple pregnancies, and obstetric complications. Unfortunately, no information was provided on maternal weight gain or infant weights (Lemberg & Phillips, 1989).

Hollifield and Hobdy (1990) reported their experience with three bulimic women who became pregnant while in therapy. Although the women felt a great

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