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Child's Death Ups Mortality Risk in Bereaved Parents

Stillbirth or infant death significantly increases parents' mortality risk for up to 25 years

FRIDAY, Sept. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Parents experiencing stillbirth or death of an infant during the first year of life (bereaved parents) have a significantly increased risk of mortality up to an average of 25 years compared with non-bereaved parents, according to a study published online Sept. 1 in BMJ: Supportive & Palliative Care.

Mairi Harper, M.B.A., Ph.D., from the University of York in the United Kingdom, and colleagues identified the relative risk of mortality in bereaved and non-bereaved parents. A random sample of death registrations from 1971 to 2006 were analyzed to compare bereaved with non-bereaved parents. Death or widowhood of the parent was the main outcome measure.

The investigators found that, during the first 15 years after their child's death, bereaved parents in Scotland were more than twice as likely to die compared with non-bereaved parents. During the first 15 years after their child's birth, bereaved mothers in England and Wales were more than four times as likely to die compared with non-bereaved parents. The mortality risk for bereaved mothers followed up for 25 and 35 years after the death of their child was significantly increased, and was 1.5 and 1.2 times that of non-bereaved mothers, respectively.

"Bereaved parents who experience stillbirth or infant death have markedly increased mortality compared with non-bereaved parents, up to 25 years (mean) after the death of their child," the authors write.

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