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Depression linked to a miscarriage can last 'for years'

Researchers studying the trauma associated with the loss of an unborn child have found that feelings of anxiety and depression can last for years.

Image: calebdzahnd via Creative Commons

THE IMPACT OF losing an unborn baby can last for many years – and the trauma can extend beyond the birth of a healthy child – a new British and US study has found.

The study found that there was a need for midwives to discuss worries with pregnant women. It also concluded that past pregnancy loss should be considered as a significant factor when assessing a person for possible depression.

About one in five pregnancies ends in miscarriage, while five in every 1,000 births or so end in a stillbirth, the BBC reports.

More than 13,000 women took part in the study, published in the British Journal of Psychology, which focused on the affect of a previous miscarriage after a woman gave birth to a healthy baby. The research found that the feelings of anxiety and depression associated with the trauma can last for almost three years after a healthy child is born.

“This study is important to the families of women who have lost a baby, since it is so often assumed that they get over the event quickly, yet as shown here, many do not,” said Professor Jean Golding, founder of the Avon project, “This has implications for the medical profession as well as the woman and her family.”

Dr Emma Robertson Blackmore of Rochester University in the US, who led the study, said: “This finding is important because, when assessing if a women is at risk of antenatal or postnatal depression, previous pregnancy loss is usually not taken into account in the same way as other risk factors such as a family history of depression, stressful life events or a lack of social support.”

The Telegraph reports that a miscarriage is defined as the loss of a baby before 24 weeks and stillbirth the loss after 24 weeks.

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