Department of Economics and Business Economics

Schizophrenia around the time of pregnancy: leveraging population-based health data and electronic health record data to fill knowledge gaps

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  • Clare L Taylor, Department of Medicine, Women's College Research Institute, Women's College Hospital, Toronto, ON, Canada.
  • ,
  • Trine Munk-Olsen
  • Louise M Howard, Kings' College London and Parkinson's Centre of Excellence, Kings College Hospital, London, UK.
  • ,
  • Simone N Vigod, Department of Medicine, Women's College Research Institute, Women's College Hospital, Toronto, ON, Canada.

BACKGROUND: Research in schizophrenia and pregnancy has traditionally been conducted in small samples. More recently, secondary analysis of routine healthcare data has facilitated access to data on large numbers of women with schizophrenia.

AIMS: To discuss four scientific advances using data from Canada, Denmark and the UK from population-level health registers and clinical data sources.

METHOD: Narrative review of research from these three countries to illustrate key advances in the area of schizophrenia and pregnancy.

RESULTS: Health administrative and clinical data from electronic medical records have been used to identify population-level and clinical cohorts of women with schizophrenia, and follow them longitudinally along with their children. These data have demonstrated that fertility rates in women with schizophrenia have increased over time and have enabled documentation of the course of illness in relation with pregnancy, showing the early postpartum as the time of highest risk. As a result of large sample sizes, we have been able to understand the prevalence of and risk factors for rare outcomes that would be difficult to study in clinical research. Advanced pharmaco-epidemiological methods have been used to address confounding in studies of antipsychotic medications in pregnancy, to provide data about the benefits and risks of treatment for women and their care providers.

CONCLUSIONS: Use of these data has advanced the field of research in schizophrenia and pregnancy. Future developments in use of electronic health records include access to richer data sources and use of modern technical advances such as machine learning and supporting team science.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere97
JournalBJPsych Open
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2020

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