There is limited information on the longitudinal disease course after first-onset postpartum psychosis (PP). Some women will experience severe affective episodes outside the postpartum period, while for other women their vulnerability to mania and psychosis may be restricted to the postpartum period. This meta-analysis estimates the risk of recurrence after first-onset PP.
A computerized literature search was conducted using Embase, MEDLINE, Web of Science, PsycINFO, Cochrane Central, PubMed, and Google Scholar (first 100 hits) combining key terms regarding longitudinal studies of first-onset PP from inception through May 9, 2019. Two levels of screening were used on 2,807 citations.
A total of 6 English-language articles including patients with a first-onset PP within 1 year after childbirth and a minimum follow-up period of 18 months or more after the index episode were included in the quantitative analysis.
The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) and Meta-analysis Of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (MOOSE) guidelines were used for data extraction, and the Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (STROBE) guidelines were used to independently assess the quality of the included studies. The primary outcome was recurrence, defined as any subsequent psychiatric episode after first-onset PP.
Six studies and 645 patients could be included in the quantitative analyses; follow-up periods were 11-26 years. Of these patients, 279 did not experience subsequent severe episodes outside the postpartum period. Meta-analysis using random-effect estimation resulted in a weighted estimate of 43.5% (95% CI, 37.7% to 49.4%).
In this meta-analysis, more than 40% of women were classified as having “isolated postpartum psychosis,” which could be considered a distinct diagnostic category with a more favorable prognosis. The remaining women had severe non-puerperal psychiatric episodes during longitudinal follow-up.

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