2018 Volume 59 Issue 1 Pages 100-109
We investigated inpatients admitted to acute closed psychiatric wards for women, from the perspective of child-rearing and child abuse toward their own children.
Of 191 women admitted to our psychiatric wards during a 2-year period (from January 2003 to December 2004), 82 (42.9%) women had experience of childbirth, of which 24 (12.6%) were involved with raising their own children at the time of the study. Eleven (13.4%) mothers had maltreated their children, and psychiatric symptoms emerged or worsened in 25 (30.5%) mothers in connection with birth and/or child rearing. The mothers had on average 1.9 children, and 15 (18.3%) mothers had three or more children, suggesting enormity of the burden they were facing raising multiple children while struggling with their own psychiatric difficulties.
The findings from this study suggest that while it is vital for psychiatrists to confirm whether mothers admitted to acute psychiatric wards have been involved in maltreating their children, beyond the initial consideration, capturing such individuals from a long-term perspective as “life-event high risk” mothers, i.e., as women vulnerable to the development and exacerbation of mental disorders and child-rearing difficulties in connection with life-events deeply relevant to women such as childbirth and child care is crucial―believing provision of continuous psychiatric support to such high risk mothers should lead to the prevention of child abuse.