How Do Eating-Disordered Patients View Pregnancy?

In a small study, most reacted positively.

Reprinted from Eating Disorders Review
September/October 2010 Volume 21, Number 5
©2010 Gürze Books

Since eating-disordered patients often show some ambivalence toward pregnancy, two clinicians recently investigated the perception of pregnancy in a group of patients being treated for eating disorders. In what is believed to be the first systematic study of eating disordered patients attitudes toward becoming pregnant, the researchers sought to learn how patients would react when an important other (relative, friend, therapist) gets pregnant.

Professor Walter Vandereycken and his colleague A. DeKerf of Catholic University, Leuven, Belgium, distributed a short questionnaire to 69 patients in two inpatient units and three private practices (Eating Weight Disord 2010; 15:98). Participation in the study was voluntary and anonymous. Among the 69 female patients who returned the questionnaire, 40 self-diagnosed anorexia nervosa as their eating disorder and 19 self-diagnosed their disorder as bulimia nervosa; in 10 cases the response was “other eating disorder.” The participants were between 14 to 43 years of age; the largest group was between 15 and 30 years old. Slightly more than half (52%) had no heterosexual partners. For a third of the respondents, the pregnancy in question had occurred in a therapist.

The researchers note that their exploratory study is the first to focus directly on the self-evaluation of eating disordered patients who were being faced with a pregnancy among those in their immediate social environment. Overall, the patients viewed the experience as a positive one, and it has a positive effect on their own view of womanhood and future pregnancy.

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