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

Clare L. Taylor, Trine Munk-Olsen, Louise M. Howard, Simone N. Vigod*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


BackgroundResearch 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.AimsTo discuss four scientific advances using data from Canada, Denmark and the UK from population-level health registers and clinical data sources.MethodNarrative review of research from these three countries to illustrate key advances in the area of schizophrenia and pregnancy.ResultsHealth 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.ConclusionsUse 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
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 28 Sept 2020


  • epidemiology
  • information technologies
  • perinatal psychiatry
  • pregnancy
  • Schizophrenia


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