Research summary

Anorexia Nervosa During Pregnancy Increases Adverse Outcomes

Women who are diagnosed with anorexia nervosa during pregnancy are 5 times more likely to birth newborns that are small for gestational age, according to the results of a recent study.

The researchers attempted to determine the implications of anorexia nervosa on pregnancy outcomes in the North American population as fertility specialists face the dilemma of treating women who are undernourished, and data is lacking from the region.

Using data from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project—Nationwide Inpatient Sample, the researchers reviewed all deliveries between 2004 and 2014. The researchers categorized the data into 2 groups: women who were diagnosed with anorexia nervosa during pregnancy (n = 214) and remaining pregnancies as a reference group (n = 9,096,574).

To calculate the data, the researchers used unadjusted and adjusted odds ratios (aORs) and corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CI). Descriptive analysis was also used to compare the demographics of both data groups.

After analyzing the data, the study showed that women with anorexia nervosa had a higher frequency of preterm delivery (aOR, 2.70; 1.69-4.3, P < .001), placental abruption (aOR, 3.35; 1.36-8.26, P = .009), and small for gestational age neonates (aOR, 5.00; 2.93-8.53, P < .001).

Participants with anorexia nervosa were more likely to be White, have higher income, be smokers, and be diagnosed with thyroid disease or another psychiatric disorder. No differences were observed between the 2 groups in the rate of hypertensive diseases of pregnancy, gestational diabetes, incidence of placenta previa, rate of cesarean section, postpartum hemorrhage, or chorioamnionitis. 

“Women with [anorexia nervosa] often conceive through ovulation induction. Fertility specialists should be aware of the magnitude of adverse outcomes related to pregnancy in women with [anorexia nervosa],” the researchers concluded.


—Jessica Ganga


Feferkorn I, Badeghiesh A, Baghlaf H, Dahan MH. Pregnancy outcomes in women with anorexia nervosa: a North American population-based study. Hum Reprod. Published online June 30, 2022.