Navigation Links
Losing Child in First Year Might Raise Early Death Risk for Parent

By Jenifer Goodwin
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Sept. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Parents, particularly mothers, who experience a stillbirth or the death of a child in infancy have an increased risk of death for many years afterward, a new study suggests.

Researchers from the United Kingdom looked at census and death registry data on parents who had a stillborn child between 1971 and 2006 or whose child died before reaching their first birthday, and compared their rates of death to parents of children who survived past their first year.

The study authors found that mothers and fathers in Scotland who'd lost an infant were more than twice as likely as other parents to die or become widowed in the first 15 years after the child's death.

In England and Wales, the research team only had access to mortality statistics for mothers. They found mothers were more than four times more likely to die during the 15 years after their child's death than parents who hadn't experienced a similar loss.

The risk of death among mothers remained elevated for up to 35 years after the child's death, according to the study published online Sept. 8 in the journal BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care.

The study authors, Mairi Harper of the University of York and colleagues, speculate that the raw grief associated with the death of a child may dampen the immune system, increasing the chances of disease and raising the risk of death.

But other experts cautioned that the researchers did not examine the cause of death in the parents, so there is no way of knowing if grief contributed to the death.

The mothers of children who die before birth or shortly afterward may already have conditions that led to ill health in both the baby and the mother, noted Kenneth Doka, a professor of gerontology at the College of New Rochelle Graduate School and senior consultant to the Hospice Foundation of America.

"Anything compromising the health of the mother could be also compromising the health of the baby," Doka said.

Previous studies in parents who've experienced the death of an older child have not found a strong link between that loss and a heightened risk of death, Doka added.

And despite the findings, parents who've lost an infant or experience a stillbirth should not read the findings to mean that they are destined to die earlier than they might otherwise, said Louis LaGrand, director of Loss Education Associates, in Venice, Fla. He holds workshops on dealing with grief.

In 1970, LaGrand and his wife found their 4-month-old daughter dead in her crib. They were devastated, he said. But eventually, the family recovered.

"My wife and I are still together. She is in very good health," LaGrand said.

And yet, there's no question that a stillbirth or loss of a child in infancy can be extremely painful and stressful; that in their grief, people may be less likely to take care of themselves by getting enough sleep, eating right and exercising; or that some people may turn to alcohol to cope, experts said.

Though it may seem impossible, parents can, and do, move on from the death of a baby, LaGrand said. He and his wife have four sons. Every year on what would be their daughter's birthday, he and his wife take a moment to remember their little girl.

"The key, I believe, is being sure that you build a wide spectrum of connections with people, places, things, ideas, information, beauty, love and spirituality -- those things are the heart, mind and soul of living," he said.

Grieving is the process of accepting what happened and what can't be changed, he said. Reaching out to other parents who've lost a child can help ease the sorrow.

"You will always have a relationship with the child you lost. You will always remember your loved one," LaGrand added. "But you can have that relationship and reinvest in life at the same time, to learn to love in separation."

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more on grieving.

SOURCES: Louis LaGrand, Ph.D., director, Loss Education Associates, Venice, Fla.; Kenneth Doka, Ph.D., professor, gerontology, The College of New Rochelle Graduate School and senior consultant, Hospice Foundation of America, New Rochelle, N.Y.; Sept. 8, 2011, BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care, online

Copyright©2010 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. Jogging Beats Weight Lifting for Losing Belly Fat: Study
2. Losing Weight, Keeping It Off Can Be Two Different Worlds
3. U.S. Found to Be Losing Ground in Life Expectancy
4. White adolescent girls may be losing sleep from the pressure to be thin
5. Losing more than 15 percent of body weight significantly boosts vitamin D levels in overweight women
6. Closing Schools Seems to Prevent Flus Spread
7. Losing Baby Weight Cuts Odds of Pregnancy-Linked Diabetes
8. Losing hair at 20 is linked to increased risk of prostate cancer in later life
9. U.S. Nursing Home Closings Hit Poor Neighborhoods Hardest: Study
10. Food Diary a Great Tool for Losing Weight, Expert Says
11. Noise and chemicals: Workers are losing their hearing
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Losing Child in First Year Might Raise Early Death Risk for Parent
(Date:11/29/2015)... ... 30, 2015 , ... The Cyber Monday deal is a deep 40% or more discount on ... get gifts for the skin care lover in your circle. Each Christmas, Sublime Beauty ... year, the 3 serums are staples: Collagen, Retinol and Hyaluronic Serums. , Stocking stuffers like ...
(Date:11/29/2015)... (PRWEB) , ... November 29, 2015 , ... While conventional ... kneeling or provide ready access to exercise weights. Fortunately, an inventor from Uniontown, Pa., ... THE TOMMY WALKER to enhance the benefits of a standard walker to improve the ...
(Date:11/29/2015)... ... November 29, 2015 , ... Effective immediately, every single IguanaMed scrub style ... Black Friday Target is offering a “Buy One Scrub Set, Get the 2nd Scrub ... to purchase IguanaMed at a discounted price. , IguanaMed’s mission is to ...
(Date:11/28/2015)... , ... November 28, 2015 , ... Safe storage for ... of two inventors, one from Lakewood, New Jersey and the other from Bradley Beach, ... patent-pending PROTECTOR to save the expense of having to replace NuvaRings more often than ...
(Date:11/28/2015)... ... , ... Pixel Film Studios is back again with ProPanel: Pulse . ... endless. Users have full control over angle of view, speed method, start point, end ... to get heads to turn. , ProPanel: Pulse offers fully customizable pulsating shape masks, ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/26/2015)... Research and Markets ( ) has announced ... Outlook to 2019 - Rise in Cardiac Disorders and Growing ... to their offering. Boston ... scientific and others. --> The market ... Boston scientific and others. ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... , November 26, 2015 ... the addition of the  "2016 Future ... Global Cell Surface Testing Market: Supplier ... to their offering.  --> ... of the  "2016 Future Horizons and ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... , November 26, 2015 ... the addition of the  "2016 Future ... European Therapeutic Drug Monitoring (TDM) Market: ... Intelligence, Emerging Opportunities"  report to their ... has announced the addition of the  ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: