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A Third Of Women Suffer Post-Traumatic Stress Following A Miscarriage Or Early Pregnancy Loss

A Third Of Women Suffer Post-Traumatic Stress Following A Miscarriage Or Early Pregnancy Loss

New research into the psychological impact of miscarriage has revealed as many as one in three women will suffer from post-traumatic stress after an early pregnancy loss.

Scientists at Imperial College London and KU Leuven in Belgium spoke to over 650 women who had suffered from either an early miscarriage (pregnancy loss before 12 weeks) or an ectopic pregnancy (when a fertilised egg implants itself outside the womb - often in the fallopian tube - and is therefore not viable).

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The study, published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, found out of the 653 women, 537 had suffered from a miscarriage while 116 had experienced an ectopic pregnancy.

Some 29 per cent - almost a third - reported suffering from PTSD, while nearly a quarter had moderate to severe anxiety.

Researchers, who spoke to the women one month after their loss, also reported over one in 10 (11 per cent) had experienced moderate to severe depression.

Nine months on from their loss, scientists spoke to the women again to report how their psychological symptoms might have changed over the course of several months. The numbers were lower, but still significant.

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Some 18 per cent of women reported having post-traumatic stress, 17 per cent were experiencing moderate to severe anxiety while six per cent were suffering from moderate to severe depression.

Researchers spoke to over 650 women who had suffered a loss (Credit: Unsplash)
Researchers spoke to over 650 women who had suffered a loss (Credit: Unsplash)

Those who took part in the study reported having had intrusive, unwanted thoughts about their loss as well as experiencing nightmares and flashbacks.

Following their findings, the Imperial Health Charity and the National Institute of Health Research Biomedical Research Centre - who funded the study - are calling for changes to the care women receive following a loss to be made immediately.

Amina Halta, midwife at Tommy's - an organisation funding research into stillbirth, premature birth and miscarriage - told Tyla: "This research from Tommy's National Centre for Miscarriage Research illustrates how important kind, sympathetic and specialised care is for women experiencing pregnancy loss.

"The grief experienced by women who have had miscarriages is so unique and often misunderstood or ignored, which can lead to long term affects such as PTSD, which can impact all aspects of their lives.

The women reported post-traumatic stress as well as anxiety and depression (Credit: Unsplash)
The women reported post-traumatic stress as well as anxiety and depression (Credit: Unsplash)

"Breaking the silence around miscarriage, ensuring women and their families have access to appropriate and sensitive psychological support following a miscarriage and an awareness of the psychological impact miscarriage can have in subsequent pregnancies can all help in combating some of the long-term psychological impacts of early pregnancy loss."

The team believe many women could be suffering in silence, especially considering pregnancy news if often shared before the 12-week mark (aka the time a miscarriage is most likely to occur).

This can result in women - as well as their partners - feeling unable to open up about how they feel, should they suffer a loss.


With one in four pregnancies ending in miscarriage, one in 100 UK women experiencing recurring miscarriages (three or more in a row) and 11 in 1,000 pregnancies being ectopic, the research has shed a crucial light onto just how many are suffering in both the short and long term.

It will now be translated into understanding which women are most at risk of suffering psychologically and what can be done to improve services.

We hope the new findings make a difference to the lives of every woman who has experienced the loss of a pregnancy. For help, support and advice, please visit the Tommy's website.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock

Topics: Pregnancy, Life News, Health

Lucy Devine

Lucy is a journalist working for Tyla. After graduating with a master's degree in journalism, she has worked in both print and online and is particularly interested in fashion, food, health and women's issues. Northerner, coffee addict, says hun a lot. Get in touch at [email protected]

 

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