How brain imaging tests may identify one’s risk for postpartum psychosis

As part of a collaboration between King’s College London and the University of Padova, a study in Translational Psychiatry suggests how brain imaging tests may provide an early sign for postpartum psychosis.

The disorder is purportedly more common among mothers who have been previously diagnosed with a psychotic disorder.

The study examined two groups of participants: 32 at risk of postpartum psychosis and 27 healthy female participants. All of the women were followed starting from pregnancy and through two months after birth.

After two months of giving birth, brain scans were administered to the women in a resting state. “Women also underwent an fMRI scan at rest and during an emotional-processing task, to study within- and between-networks functional connectivity,” according to the study’s authors.

“Our finding that the executive network and its interplay with other brain networks implicated in goal-directed behavior are intrinsically altered suggest that they could be considered neural phenotypes for postpartum psychosis and help advance our understanding of the pathophysiology of this disorder,” the authors determined in their journal report.

“This is the first study to investigate functional connectivity at rest and during emotional processing in women at risk of postpartum psychosis.”

The study was published online on May 12th, 2021.

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