Navigation Links
Stillbirths, infant deaths lead to anxiety, guilt and stress among obstetricians

ANN ARBOR, Mich. Nearly one in 10 obstetricians in a new study has considered giving up obstetric practice because of the emotional toll of stillbirths and infant deaths.

Three-quarters of the 804 obstetricians who responded to a survey by researchers at the University of Michigan Health System reported that the experience took a large emotional toll on them personally.

"Our survey reveals that perinatal death has a profound effect on obstetricians, and 8 percent had considered giving up obstetrics because of the emotional difficulty of caring for patients with perinatal death," says lead author Katherine Gold, M.D., MSW, of U-M's Department of Family Medicine and Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

"We know that stillbirth and infant death are traumatic events for families; this study suggests that they are also traumatic for the physician."

The study appears in the July issue of the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Approximately 15 percent of pregnancies end in early losses (before 20 weeks gestation). In the United States, 1.3 percent of pregnancies end in either stillbirth (losses after 20 weeks but before delivery) or infant death (deaths in the first year of life, most of which occur in the first week). On average, the typical obstetrician performing 140 deliveries a year could encounter nearly two dozen women with a miscarriage and one to two with stillbirth or infant death, the study says.

"Obstetricians want to see a healthy baby. When a fetus or baby dies, the loss can be devastating for the physician," Gold notes. "Half of the time, the medical cause of a stillbirth is unknown, but physicians still may struggle with feelings of guilt or self-blame.

"When a fetus or baby dies, we focus on the family's needs, but obstetricians are often struggling with their own emotions too."

The threat of lawsuits also weighs heavily on physicians. Stillbirths are the number two reason for lawsuits against obstetricians in the United States, preceded only by allegations involving births with adverse neurologic outcomes. In the study, 43 percent of obstetricians who responded said they had worried about disciplinary or legal action due to a perinatal death with no identified cause.

Improved physician training would help obstetricians, according to a majority of the study's respondents. Physicians who said they'd had adequate bereavement training were less likely to report that they had considered giving up obstetric practice because of the emotional difficulty of perinatal death, the study notes. Physicians who perceived their own training as adequate were less likely to worry about disciplinary or legal action when cause of death was unknown.

"As physicians, we get a lot of training in medicine but little in death and bereavement. Sudden and unexpected losses can be terribly difficult both for families and for the physicians involved in caring for the family," Gold says. "This study shows that stillbirths and infant deaths can have profound and persistent effects on obstetricians. We need to find ways to help both families and physicians cope with these devastating events."

Two-thirds of physicians supported training by formal presentations or seminars, and nearly half recommended informal gatherings for physicians to discuss difficult experiences. Many respondents suggested that a meeting with bereaved parents could serve as a useful training strategy as well as a way of helping physicians cope with their own feelings about the loss.


Contact: Katie Vloet
University of Michigan Health System

Related medicine news :

1. Nicotine in breast milk disrupts infants sleep patterns
2. Shaking may cause brain damage and serious long-term effects to infants
3. Maternal depression and controlling behavior associated with increased stress response in infants
4. Repeat steroids to premature infants linked to cerebral palsy
5. Babies raised in bilingual homes learn new words differently than infants learning one language
6. Joint Center Says New Approach Required to Reduce Black Infant Mortality
7. After Infant Gripe Water Recall Scare, Homeopathic Medicine Offers Safe Alternative
8. Vaginal progesterone gel may improve infant outcomes and...
9. Research shows how genetic mutation causes epilepsy in infants
10. Combination vaccines okay for infants, study shows
11. New York Citys infant mortality rate declined in 2006
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/25/2015)... Rouge, LA (PRWEB) , ... November 25, 2015 , ... ... in the United States District Court of Connecticut on behalf of a home health ... behalf of all current or former home health care workers employed by Humana, Inc., ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... (PRWEB) , ... November 25, 2015 , ... ... is encouraging people across the country to celebrate their sobriety and show through ... to post “before and after” photos this Thanksgiving with the hashtag #FacesOfGratitude on ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... Florida (PRWEB) , ... November 25, 2015 , ... ... testing for physicians and athletic programs, launches new Wimbledon Athletics Facebook ... of testing young athletes for unsuspected cardiac abnormalities. About 2,000 people under the ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... Smiles by Stevens is pleased to ... facial wrinkling. While many patients are aware of the benefits of Botox® in the ... to those suffering with discomfort, soreness, and pain as a result of Jaw Tension, ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... , ... November 25, 2015 , ... ... decades of music, friendships, and learning in its 65th Anniversary Brillianteen Revue, scheduled ... 5-6. , For 65 years, Brillianteen has been a treasured tradition ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... Research and Markets ( ) has announced the ... to 2020" report to their offering. ... the total market share in 2014. The market for ... to growth at the highest CAGR between 2015 and ... fast growing water, industrial gas treatment, pharmaceutical, and food ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... DELHI , November 25, 2015 ... invoked due to repeated failure of IVF cycles. After ... Bhatia was totally dejected and had lost all hopes that she would be ... first Indian miracle child conceived after failure of over ... to abroad (UK) before they decided to take one last attempt ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... Nov. 24, 2015  Natera, Inc. (Nasdaq: ... genetic testing and the analysis of circulating ... present at the 27 th  Annual Piper ... 2015 at 1:00 p.m. ET.  Matthew Rabinowitz, Ph.D., CEO of ... business activities and financial outlook. ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: