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Mother's risk of an early death soars by 133% following loss of a child
17:18 GMT, 28 June 2012
Losing a child sends a mother's risk of an early death soaring, according to researchers.
A U.S team found there was a 133 per cent increase in the risk of a mother dying in the two years following the loss of a son or daughter.
Researchers William Evans from the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, and Javier Espinosa of the Rochester Institute of Technology, studied 69,224 mothers aged 20 to 50 for nine years, tracking the mortality of children even after they had left home.
Grief: Mothers had a far higher risk of early death in the two years following the loss of a child, a study has found
The study revealed mothers were at this far higher risk of dying for two years after the loss of their child. This was true regardless of the age of their child at the time of death.
There also appeared to be no difference in results based on household income, mother's education, family size, the child's sex or the child's cause of death.
The scientists said there were not enough cases
to make any definitive conclusions as to what caused the maternal deaths.
It is the first study of its kind using a large, nationally representative U.S. data source.
Four fifths of the sample were married, with slightly more than half the mothers aged between 20 and 34. Around one half had a high school education while a third had some college education or a college degree.
Though this study is the first to examine maternal mortality after the death of a child, earlier studies from Denmark in the area of parental bereavement found that parents who experienced the death of a child had a higher risk of first-time hospitalisation for a psychiatric disorder than parents who did not lose a child.
Mothers also had a higher relative risk than fathers, the effect of which was most acute during the first year and significantly elevated for five years or more.
Titled 'Maternal bereavement: the
heightened mortality of mothers after the death of a child,' the latest study was published in Economics and Human Biology.