Losing a baby raises risk of early death for parents, especially mothers

Losing a baby raises risk of early death for parents, especially mothers

Losing a child during his/her first 12 months of life can considerably raise the parents' risk of dying early, researchers from the University of York, England and Stirling University, Scotland reported in BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care.

Dr Mairi Harper and team examined 5% of UK death registrations of parents who had lost a child aged 1 year or more, as well as parents who had lost a child aged less than 12 months. They were randomly selected from data from 1971 to 2006. Stillborn babies were included in the study

The data obtained from Scotland found that parents who lost a child under 12 months of age ran twice the risk of dying early or becoming widowed compared to parents who lost no children.

The impact of child bereavement was found to be greater on mothers, although fathers had a higher risk of early death too, the authors wrote.

In England and Wales, mothers who lost a child run four times the risk of dying within 15 years of the child's death, compared to other mothers. Even 25 years after the loss of a child, the risk of early death was 1.5 higher.

Dr. Harper said that "dying of a broken heart" does not only apply to the loss of a spouse or partner, it also happens to people who lose a young child.

The investigators had not had enough data to determine what impact, if any, suicides had on the figures. They believe bereavement may have a biological effect on the parents, such as undermining their immune system.

Dr. Harper said:

"Bereaved parents may also be more likely to use maladaptive coping strategies, such as alcohol misuse."

Harper explained that alcohol misuse may raise the risk of developing alcohol-related illnesses, or accidental injuries.

The authors added that perhaps some parents whose child is stillborn or dies early may themselves have poor health.

Dr. Harper said:

"It is imperative that cause of death be further investigated in order to establish the factors leading to increased mortality in bereaved parents."

An Important Duty to Your Parents (Video Medical And Professional 2020).

Section Issues On Medicine: Medical practice