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date: 18 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

It is estimated that more than 500,000 women annually experience a mental illness during pregnancy. Although approximately a third of these women will be prescribed medication, the majority receives no treatment, partly because ethical challenges to including pregnant women in research protocols have impeded studies necessary to establish maternal and fetal effects of medication, appropriate dosing, and the relative risks of undertreated mental illness. Because mental illness is a frequent complication of pregnancy (particularly anxiety and depression), clinicians will be called upon to ethically navigate uncertain treatment recommendations with sensitivity to patient values. The following discussion reviews the history of current guidelines to research with pregnant women, common clinical presentations of women experiencing mental illness in the perinatal context, and relevant ethical frameworks to inform patient care.

Keywords: mental illness, depression, perinatal context, ethical frameworks, pregnancy

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