Increased mortality in parents bereaved in the first year of their child's life

Mairi Harper, Rory C O'Connor, Ronan E O'Carroll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: To identify the relative risk (RR) of mortality in bereaved parents compared with non-bereaved counterparts.

DESIGN: Retrospective data linkage study.

SETTING: United Kingdom, 1971-2006.

PARTICIPANTS: A random sample from death registrations (5%) of parents who had a live birth where the infant lived beyond its first year of life (non-bereaved parents) and parents who had experienced a stillbirth or the death of a child in its first year of life (bereaved parents) between 1971 and 2006.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Death or widowhood of the parent.

RESULTS: Bereaved parents in Scotland (n=738) were more than twice as likely to die in the first 15 years after their child's death than non-bereaved parents (n=50 132), p<0.005. Bereaved mothers in England and Wales (n=481) were more than four times as likely to die in the first 15 years after their child's birth than non-bereaved parents (n=30 956), p<0.001. The mortality risk for bereaved mothers compared with non-bereaved mothers, followed up for 25 years after death, was 1.5 (bereaved n=745, non-bereaved n=36 434), p<0.005. When followed up for 35 years, the risk of mortality for bereaved mothers (n=1120) was 1.2 times that of non-bereaved mothers (n=36 062), p<0.005.

CONCLUSIONS: Bereaved parents who experience stillbirth or infant death have markedly increased mortality compared with non-bereaved parents, up to 25 years (mean) after the death of their child. However, the RR reduces over time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)306-9
Number of pages4
JournalBMJ Supportive & Palliative Care
Volume1
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011

Keywords

  • Adult
  • Bereavement
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Great Britain
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Death
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Information Storage and Retrieval
  • Male
  • Mortality
  • Parents
  • Pregnancy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk
  • Stillbirth
  • Young Adult

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