Loss of a child ups mother risk of early death many fold
A team of US researchers found that there was a 133 per cent increase in the risk of a mother dying in the two years following the loss of a son or daughter.
The researchers, led by William Evans of the University of Notre Dame and Javier Espinosa of the Rochester Institute of Technology, studied 69,224 mothers aged 20 to 50 for nine years, tracking the mortality of children even after they had left home.
They found that the heightened mortality within the first two years following the death of a child occurs regardless of the age of the child at the time of death. Moreover, the risk was not reduced by household income, a mother`s education, the family size or the cause of the child`s death.
The scientists, however, said there were not enough cases to make any definitive conclusions as to what caused the maternal deaths, the Daily Mail reported.
In the study, the team followed women who are married (84 per cent), white (87 per cent) and non-Hispanic (91 per cent). Slightly more than half the mothers were between the ages of 20 and 34.
Approximately one-half had a high school education, and one-third had some college education or a college degree. Less than 20 per cent had less than a high school education.
Though this study is the first to examine maternal mortality after the death of a child, earlier studies in the area of parental bereavement had found that parents who experienced the death of a child had a higher risk of first-time hospitalisation for a psychiatric disorder than parents who did not lose a child.
Mothers also had a higher relative risk than fathers, the effect of which was most acute during the first year and significantly elevated for five years or more. Titled "Maternal bereavement: the heightened mortality of mothers after the death of a child", the new study was published in Economics and Human Biology.