Research Briefs: Claire Wilson

Claire Wilson is a psychiatrist and a researcher. She works at Kings College London and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust. She works broadly in the field of perinatal mental health and in epidemiology. In her clinical practice, she sees patients who are experiencing perinatal mental illnesses. Perinatal means preconception, during pregnancy and up to one year of postpartum.

During her PhD, she explored the impact of gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy), on the mental health of women and also the development of their children. She saw an increase in depression and anxiety, when women experience gestational diabetes.

Probably about one in 10 women, possibly even more, suffer from anxiety or depression during the perinatal period.

Pregnancy is a big life event; implications for the developing child are important. There are a number of emotions that women with gestational diabetes may experience including guilt (because we know that being overweight is sometimes a risk factor for gestational diabetes) and worry about what will happen to their baby.

The COST collaborative is an EU funded collaboration of both health professionals and researchers working in the field of perinatal mental health and particularly in the area of perinatal depression. Researchers and clinicians from a range of European countries work together to learn more about how to prevent perinatal depression.

Claire also collaborated in a study of COST looking specifically at the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on perinatal mental health. They conducted an online survey across several European countries and also some countries in South America, asking women about their well-being and their mental health while they were pregnant or up to six months following delivery of the child.

She was particularly interested in bringing together her interests around gestational diabetes and perinatal mental health during the COVID 19 crisis. In her study, she found out that during the COVID 19 crisis, symptoms of anxiety and depression were higher in women with gestational diabetes versus those without.

Future research will be needed to examine what’s going on for these women. What are they experiencing? Why might they be experiencing more anxiety and depression? What do we know from before the pandemic? What are the mechanisms that cause more anxiety? Is it due to inflammation, or another biological process? Is poverty also a contributing factor?
Women often don’t feel seen by healthcare professionals working in maternity services. They often feel like the baby’s health is more of a concern than their own health. There’s a range of experiences that are exerting a significant stress on women and their mental health during this time.
So, it’s important that women with gestational diabetes are supported with their mental health, whether there’s a pandemic or not. These women need integrated physical and mental healthcare.

Claire’s recommendation is that all clinicians working with women in the perinatal period, including those with gestational diabetes (but not just gestational diabetes), are curious about women’s mental health, that they ask them how they are feeling and that they, as professionals, are supported to provide appropriate care for these women during pregnancy and in the postpartum period.

Recent publications of Claire Wilson:

Wilson, C. A., Gomez-Gomez, I., Parsons, J., Costa, R., Mesquita, A., Vousoura, E., Contreras-Garcıa, Y., Levy, D., Mateus, V., Christoforou, A., Felice, E., Dikmen-Yildiz, P., Domı ́nguez-Salas, S. & Motrico, E., 19 Jul 2022, (E-pub ahead of print) In: Journal of Women’s Health. Research output: Contribution to journal › Article › peer-review. DOIs:

Mateus, V., Cruz, S., Costa, R., Mesquita, A., Christoforou, A., Wilson, C., Vousoura, E., Dikmen-Yildiz, P., Bina, R., Dominguez-Salas, S., Contreras-García, Y., Motrico, E. & Osorio, A., 8 Aug 2022, (Accepted/In press) In: Journal of affective disorders. Research output: Contribution to journal › Article › peer-review

Wilson, C., 9 Aug 2022, In: Progress in Neurology and Psychiatry. 26, 3 Research output: Contribution to journal › Article

Howard, L. M.Wilson, C. A. & Chandra, P. S., Jun 2022, In: World Psychiatry. 21, 2, p. 311-313 3 p. Research output: Contribution to journal › Comment/debate › peer-review. DOIs:

Wilson, C., 5 Sep 2022, In: BJPsych Advances. 28, 5, p. 328-329 2 p. Research output: Contribution to journal › Article › peer-review. DOIs:

Wilson, C. A., Santorelli, G., Reynolds, R. M., Simonoff, E.Howard, L. M. & Ismail, K., 14 Mar 2022, In: BMJ Open. 12, 3, p. e051498 e051498. Research output: Contribution to journal › Article › peer-review. DOIs:

Wilson, C.Newham, J., Rankin, J., Ismail, K.Simonoff, E., Reynolds, R., Stoll, N. & Howard, L., May 2022, In: Journal of Psychiatric Research. 149, p. 293-306 14 p. Research output: Contribution to journal › Article › peer-review. DOIs:

Wilson, C., Santorelli, G., Reynolds, R., Simonoff, E.Howard, L. & Ismail, K., 18 Feb 2022, (Accepted/In press) In: BMJ Open. Research output: Contribution to journal › Article › peer-review

Kittel-Schneider, S., Felice, E., Buhagiar, R., Lambregtse-van den Berg, M., Wilson, C., Banjac Baljak, V., Savic Vujovic, K., Medic, B., Opankovic, A., Fonseca, A. & Lupattelli, A., 10 Feb 2022, (E-pub ahead of print) In: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 19, 4, 1973. Research output: Contribution to journal › Article › peer-review. DOIs:

Smith, R. D., Hung, S. C., Goh, J., Ip, H. L., Fong, D. Y. T., Ali, S., Wilson, C. A. & Lok, K. Y. W., 11 Oct 2021, In: BMJ Open. 11, 10, e048764. Research output: Contribution to journal › Article › peer-review. DOIs:

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