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For Many Couples, Toll of Miscarriage Lingers
Date:4/5/2010

Study finds relationships often founder after failed pregnancy,,

MONDAY, April 5 (HealthDay News) -- Wendy Becker already had three daughters when she miscarried at 14 weeks. That she was already a mother didn't lessen her grief.

"What people didn't understand was that having my other children and realizing how unique they are made it harder for me," said Becker, who lives in Highland Ranch, Colo.

At first, her husband was understanding of her need to talk through the loss and the hours she spent online searching for support groups. But as the months wore on, he became frustrated at what seemed to be her inability to get over it.

"At a time you would think you would be able to help each other, we were going totally separate directions," Becker said. "I was grieving. He was moving on."

The Beckers aren't alone in experiencing strain in a relationship in the aftermath of miscarriage; their marriage remains intact. New research finds that couples who have experienced miscarriage or stillbirth are more likely to break up even years after the loss than couples whose pregnancy ended with the birth of a child.

For miscarriage, or pregnancy loss prior to 20 weeks, the likelihood of breaking up is 22 percent higher than for couples who have a successful pregnancy. The rate of splitting up peaks between 18 months and three years afterward, before falling back to rates similar to that of other couples, according to the study.

For stillbirth, or pregnancy loss at 20 weeks and beyond, the risk of breakup or divorce is heightened by as much as 40 percent for as long as a decade after the loss, according to the study.

The researchers say this is the first nationwide study of the fallout on relationships, both among married partners and couples living together, from miscarriage and stillbirth. The study analyzed the results of 7,770 pregnancies using data from the National Survey of Family G
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