Study: Vets face greater risk of mental health issues during pregnancy
December 22nd, 2010
06:39 PM ET

Study: Vets face greater risk of mental health issues during pregnancy

Women war veterans who became pregnant after serving in Iraq or Afghanistan were twice as likely as other female vets to experience mental health problems, according to a study published this week in the "Journal of Women's Health."

The study, "Pregnancy and Mental Health Among Women Veterans Returning from Iraq and Afghanistan," aimed to  determine the prevalence of mental health problems among veterans who received pregnancy-related care in the Veterans Health Administration system.

A review of more than 43,000 women who completed their service between 2001 and 2008 found that pregnant veterans were twice as likely as those without pregnancy to be diagnosed with depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia.

Overall, 32% of women pregnant veterans received one or more distinct mental health diagnosis, compared with 21% of women veterans without a pregnancy-related condition.

If untreated, such mental health issues during pregnancy could result in preterm delivery, low birth-weight or impaired cognitive and emotional development, the study said.

"Like the men, many women returning from military service may experience mental health problems, but the juxtaposition of pregnancy and mental health-related issues is of special concern because pregnancy itself can precipitate or exacerbate mental health conditions," the study's authors wrote.

But because women do not receive pregnancy care through the Veterans Health Administration, little is known about pregnancy outcomes or how the women cope with their mental health issues during pregnancy.

"With the increased number of women serving in the military, it is important that we understand their unique health issues such as mental health problems during pregnancy," said the study's editor-in-chief, Susan G. Kornstein, MD, Executive Director of the Virginia Commonwealth University Institute for Women's Health.

Women veterans are among the fastest  growing segments of new users of the Veterans Health Administration health care, the study said. But, because they are still a numerical minority in the system, a majority of VHA facilities refer pregnant veterans to community providers.

Even if women leave the VHA for prenatal care, those dealing with mental health problems may choose to seek treatment in the VHA system for those conditions.

"This dual system of care may lead to lack of coordination among care providers, which may present problems for medical management of pregnancy if non-VHA obstetrical providers are unaware of women veterans' mental health problems or medications they may be taking for these problems."

The study also found that pregnancy veterans were more likely to be Hispanic and unmarried and to have a high school education or less, compared with veterans without a pregnancy-related condition.

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Filed under: Health • Health Care • Military • Veterans
soundoff (9 Responses)

    i like this part .."The study also found that pregnancy veterans were more likely to be Hispanic and unmarried and to have a high school education or less, compared with veterans without a pregnancy-related condition"

    should say 'watch out for stupid, single, knocked up crazy mexican women vets' they will make you life a living hell.

    or it could mean that you try and hook up with mexican chicks comming back from iraq cause they want to get some.

    December 22, 2010 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Nardino

    Lord Jesus, have mercy upon my soul and redeem me through thy blood.

    December 22, 2010 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
  3. banasy

    I was thinking the same thing! Why was that last paragraph even nessesary?


    December 22, 2010 at 8:46 pm | Report abuse |
  4. banasy

    Necessary. Sorry.

    December 22, 2010 at 8:47 pm | Report abuse |

      nice save, remember the grammer and spelling police are always watching.

      December 22, 2010 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
  5. banasy

    Thanks, Teach! I know, I do, and I will!

    December 22, 2010 at 11:48 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Cesar

    @Nardino: An angel from heaven told me that you are dammed to hell, but if you keep asking for forgiveness on-line on these CNN bloggs it will please the Lord. Then, and only then you might get some mercy upon your soul and less time in hell, but you're going!

    December 23, 2010 at 6:15 am | Report abuse |
  7. Moon

    What exactly do "pregnancy veterans" and "pregnancy related condition" mean anyway? They confuse the sentence. Do they simply mean "Pregnant Veterans" and plain "Pregnancy?" You can't compare pregnancy itself to so-called "pregnancy related conditions." Pregnancy is not a condition of itself; it just is. You CAN compare pregnant veterans of one ethnicity to pregnant veterans of another ethnicity. The wack ass last paragraph of this dumb article doesn't even pass middle school writing requirements even though it could have been used to raise some more important issues about the challenges pregnant veterans face regardless of ethnicity or educational level. Like many other CNN articles, this insults the readers and obfuscates the issue the article was trying to present.

    December 23, 2010 at 7:55 am | Report abuse |
  8. Women's issues health

    Womens Issues Article Feed Find More Articles. Search. Similar Articles. Reduce Overly Large Breasts – What Are Your Options; The Benefits of Decreasing Your …yeast infection treatment for men and women

    January 17, 2012 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |