Management of anorexia nervosa in pregnancy: a systematic and state-of-the-art review

Megan Galbally*, Hubertus Himmerich, Shivanthi Senaratne, Phoebe Fitzgerald, Jeanette Frost, Nicole Woods, Jan E. Dickinson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Anorexia nervosa is a potentially severe, chronic, and relapsing mental disorder that is more common in women and girls during the reproductive years (usually defined as those aged 12–51 years). It is associated with suicide and mortality linked with the physical consequences of starvation. Although anorexia nervosa is a disorder of low prevalence, and even lower prevalence in pregnancy, it is associated with substantial risks for the mother and infant when under-recognised and undermanaged. Despite the complexity and risk of managing anorexia nervosa in pregnancy, few studies are available to guide care. We conducted a systematic review, identifying only eight studies that addressed the management of anorexia nervosa in pregnancy. These studies were case studies or case reports examining narrow aspects of management. Subsequently, we conducted a state-of-the-art review across research in relevant disciplines and areas of expertise for managing anorexia nervosa in pregnancy and synthesised the findings into recommendations and principles for multidisciplinary management of anorexia nervosa in pregnancy. These recommendations included a focus on the specialist mental health, obstetric, medical, and nutritional care required to ensure optimal outcomes for women and their infants. Despite the complexity and risks, a gap exists in the comprehensive guidelines and recommendations for managing anorexia nervosa in pregnancy. This Review provides multidisciplinary recommendations for clinical care in this area. Managing anorexia nervosa in pregnancy is an area of clinical care that requires a multidisciplinary approach and includes those experienced in managing high-risk pregnancies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)402-412
Number of pages11
JournalThe Lancet Psychiatry
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 24 Mar 2022


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