Adolescent girls with major mental illness have nearly three-fold increased age-specific fertility rates, compared with unaffected girls, according to a study published in Pediatrics.

Simone N. Vigod, M.D., from the Women’s College Hospital and Women’s College Research Institute in Toronto, and colleagues conducted a repeated annual cross-sectional study of fertility rates among girls aged 15 to 19 years in Ontario, Canada (1999 to 2009).

Administrative health data were used to identify girls with a major mental illness including the presence of a psychotic, bipolar, or major depressive disorder within five years preceding pregnancy. The remaining girls were categorized as a comparison group.

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The researchers found that, for girls with major mental illness, the incidence of birth was one in 25. For girls with major mental illness, the age-specific fertility rate was 44.9 per 1,000, compared with 15.2 per 1,000 in unaffected girls (rate ratio, 2.95). Compared with unaffected girls, girls with major mental illness had a smaller reduction in fertility rates over time (relative rates, 0.86 and 0.78, respectively).

“Our findings highlight the importance of considering major mental illness in the design and implementation of pregnancy prevention programs as well as in targeted antenatal and postnatal programs to ensure maternal and child well-being,” the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.