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July 31, 2019

Prevention of Infanticide and Suicide in the Postpartum Period—the Importance of Emergency Care

Author Affiliations
  • 1Brain Center Rudolf Magnus, Department of Psychiatry, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands
  • 2GGNet Mental Health, Apeldoorn, the Netherlands
  • 3Division of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neurosciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff, United Kingdom
  • 4Department of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • 5Department of Psychiatry, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York
  • 6Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York
JAMA Psychiatry. 2019;76(12):1221-1222. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2019.1929

Unrecognized and untreated postpartum mental illness can have tragic consequences, as underscored and often sensationalized in news media coverage of maternal infanticide.1,2 After such a tragic incident, up to 30% of mothers who commit filicide also commit suicide.3 In those mothers who survive, repercussions may include intense feelings of guilt and grief as well as stigma. Furthermore, women may face criminal charges in several countries, including the United States. In contrast with other nations, the US judicial approach to infanticide is particularly punitive, with 4 states lacking the option of an insanity-based defense.4

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