Research has shown that women who have miscarried in the past can still suffer depression and anxiety after giving birth to a healthy baby.
The study found that women who have had a miscarriage face a greater risk of mental distress in later pregnancies.
Women can experience such symptoms for an average of almost three years after giving birth to a healthy baby, according to the researchers.
The study questioned more than 13,000 pregnant women enrolled into the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (Alspac).
Professor Jean Golding, from the University of Bristol, one of the researchers whose findings are reported in the British Journal of Psychiatry, said: “This study is important to the families of women who have lost a baby, since it is so often assumed that they get over the event quickly, yet as shown here, many do not. This has implications for the medical profession as well as the woman and her family.”
The participants were asked about their previous experience of miscarriage and stillbirth, and assessed for symptoms of depression and anxiety. The assessments took place twice during pregnancy and four times after giving birth.
In total, 21% of the women reported having had one or more previous miscarriages. Only 0.5% had experienced a previous stillbirth and just three women had suffered two stillbirths.
Between 14% and 20% of pregnancies in the UK end in a miscarriage, defined as the loss of a pregnancy within 24 weeks.
Each year in the UK, between 70,000 and 90,000 women in the UK suffer a pregnancy loss associated with miscarriage or stillbirth. However, up to 80% of women who experience a pregnancy loss become pregnant again.
- Robertson Blackmoore E, et al. Previous prenatal loss as a predictor of perinatal depression and anxiety. British Journal of Psychiatry 2011; Advance online publication.
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