Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Wednesday's Woe - Child-Loss Grief: As Bad as We Thought it Was… It's Worse than We Thought

A new study has found that mothers who experience a stillbirth or lose a child in the first year of life are more than 4 times more likely to die or become widowed in the following decade than moms who don’t experience this type of bereavement.

Wednesday's Woe

Child-Loss Grief:

As Bad as We Thought it Was…

It's Worse than We Thought

Today, Tommy's sister (a nurse practitioner who is also a child-loss parent, having lost her newborn infant twenty-eight years ago) sent him a recent article from Medscape (dated September 22, 2011) entitled, Loss of a Baby Linked to Increased Mortality in Parents, regarding a new study published online September 1, 2011 in the British Medical Journal of Supportive and Palliative Care about child-loss bereavement being linked to increased mortality! We want to share its findings with you.

Researchers knew from former research that bereavement indeed could affect immune and cardiac functioning. Lead author Mairi Harper, Ph.D. and research fellow at University of York, United Kingdom, and her colleagues decided to research further to see whether this was true for parents who had lost a very young child.

Their study specifically looked at those parents who lost a stillborn or a newborn baby within its first year of life. They found that the mortality rate was significantly higher for bereaved parents than for non-bereaved parents of thriving babies born in the same year. Dr. Harper said,

"The outcome of mortality and death was up to 5 times higher in the bereaved parent group than the non-bereaved group."
Dr. Harper admitted such a large difference came as a "bit of a shock."

The 2-part study was the first of its kind to directly compare parents who had lost a child in the first year of life to parents who gave birth during the same period but whose child lived.

"The analysis showed that fathers of babies who died faced just as high risk for death as the mothers. The level of mortality was the same for both (sexes of the bereaved parents)," Dr. Harper said.

Dr. Harper also found upon further analysis of her study,

"A stillbirth is just as devastating as losing a child who lives for a short time. There was no difference at all in outcomes for (the bereaved) parents in those two groups."

She further concluded in her analysis of their study,

"Cause of death, whether illness or accident, also didn’t make a difference (in the mortality rate outcome of the bereaved parents)."

Picture, thanks to GrievingMothers


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