Pregnancy Triggers Binge Eating in Some
Study Shows Lower-Income Women Especially at Risk for Binge Eating During Pregnancy
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Eating Disorders and Pregnancy continued...
Only 37 (0.1%) women reported being anorexic before pregnancy, and it was
not clear from the study how this disorder manifested during pregnancy and
Of the four eating disorders examined, binge eating disorder was the only
one associated with a significant number of new cases occurring during
The fact that low socioeconomic status was a risk factor for developing the
disorder during pregnancy points to psychological and social stresses playing a
role, Bulik says.
The study appears in the August issue of the journal Psychological
"It's possible that the combination of biology and high stress may make
pregnancy a biological trigger of the disorder," she says.
The Role of Health Care Providers
The University of North Carolina researchers will next examine the impact of
eating disorders on the babies born to the women in the study.
But the interim findings make it clear, Bulik says, that many pregnant women
struggle with eating disorders.
"This has to be on the radar screens of doctors, midwives, and all health care providers who see women
during pregnancy," she says.
University of North Carolina professor of psychiatry Maria LaVia, MD, who
was not involved in the study, agrees.
LaVia says it is critical that women struggling with eating disorders tell
their pregnancy health care providers about their condition. And it is just as
critical that the health care providers help their patients deal with the
eating disorder without judging them.
"That is hard for many caregivers who don't specialize in the treatment of
eating disorders," she says. "But women shouldn't be made to feel ashamed."