Premature death more likely for bereaved mums

ANALYSES of UK death registrations from 1971 to 2006 have shown that mothers who experience either a stillbirth or the death of a child in its first year are more likely to die, or become widowed, within the following 15 years. In Scotland, 738 bereaved parents were more than twice as likely to die in the first 15 years after their child’s death, than the random sample of 50,132 non-bereaved parents. In a smaller sample in England and Wales, 481 bereaved mothers were four times more likely to die within 15 years, than the 30,956 non-bereaved mothers. 

The difference diminished as time progressed, but mortality remained higher in bereaved parents even 35 years later. Although the study did not look at cause, the authors have speculated that suicide, the impact of stress on the immune system, and unhealthy coping strategies could be possible contributors. However, stillbirth and infant death could potentially occur more commonly in families with poor health