Miscarriage Mourning Lingers, Even After a Healthy Baby is Born, Study Shows
The grief following a miscarriage or stillborn is a loss that can lead to anxiety and depression, but researchers are now discovering the angst can lead to prolonged psychological distress, even after mothers deliver healthy babies.
The findings turn the spotlight on the importance of knowing what to do and what to say when a woman miscarries. Sentiments, such as "At least you have other children," can be hurtful, Time magazine reports.
"We kind of assumed in the academic world that if you have a healthy baby, everything would be fine," Emma Robertson Blackmore, the study's lead researcher and an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical Center, tells Time.
Almost 80 percent of the estimated U.S. women who endure a miscarriage or stillbirth get pregnant again, the study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry reports. However, nearly 13 percent of the women who have since delivered healthy babies still had symptoms of depression almost three years, or 33 months, after the birth of the new baby.
The pain is magnified for moms who had two previous losses and then gave birth, with 19 percent of those new moms having symptoms of depression within the same almost three-year time span, according to the study.
Researchers tracked 13,133 pregnant women in the United Kingdom who were participating in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. They were screened for depression and anxiety throughout their pregnancy and after giving birth. Most reported no miscarriages, but 21 percent said they had experienced at least one.
Researchers tell Time the findings are significant because physicians should screen women who've lost a pregnancy for postpartum mental problems.
"It's expected that women who've suffered a loss might be more anxious in subsequent pregnancies, especially up until the point at which they lost the pregnancy," Blackmore tells the magazine. "Say you had a miscarriage at 15 weeks. You can imagine until you get to that point, you think, 'Oh, my God, is everything going to be OK?' "
She tells Time researchers had expected the symptoms of depression to decrease once that point was reached. But the numbers continue to spike with the numbers of lost pregnancies.
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