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Death of a Child Could Increase Mother's Risk of Death: Study

Update Date: Jun 29, 2012 09:16 AM EDT

Generally, after losing a child, bereaved parents get into a state of numbness and at times even denial. It could be accompanied by feelings of extreme anger, guilt, or fear. It is only once the feeling of numbness goes away that the reality hits hard to most of the parents, understandably making the second year even harder to deal with.

Although there is no pattern in which bereaved parents experience grief, there are certain similarities in the processes of dealing with a situation like this.

Parents at this time should try and be gentle with themselves. They should realize that the extreme emotions they are experiencing is not a sign of insanity, but just the fact that they are dealing with the loss of their own child. While for some, taking time off from work helps, for some others, getting back to work quickly might do good.

Losing a child is perhaps the gravest sorrow that a mother can ever experience in her lifetime. Her own child's death can certainly cause a mother to go through implausible pain and according to researchers, can also lead to her death.

A latest study has found out that a child's death raises the risk of the mother's death in the following two years by 133 percent.

For the study, researchers William Evans from the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, and Javier Espinosa of the Rochester Institute of Technology, studied 69,224 mothers for nine years.

The mothers were aged between 20 and 50 years and the researchers tracked the mortality of children even after they had left home.

The study found that mothers were at high risk of dying, especially in the first two years after the death of their child. It did not matter what the age of the child was at the time of his/her death. Also, the results are applicable to any mother and child, irrespective of the household income, mother's education, family size, the child's sex or the child's cause of death, reports Mail Online.

According to the scientists, it could not be defined as to what exactly caused the mother's death, since there are not enough cases.

The study which has used the data from nationally representative U.S. data source is the first attempt ever to look into maternal mortality.

The study sample was composed of women who are married (84 percent), white (87 percent) and non-Hispanic (91 percent). A little 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 percent had less than a high school education, reported Science Daily.

An earlier study conducted in Denmark revealed that parents who undergo the grief of a child's death had higher risk of getting psychiatric disorders. Also, mothers were found to be more vulnerable than fathers to contract the disorders during the first year and the chances only increased in the following five years after the death of the child.

The latest Study: 'Maternal bereavement: the heightened mortality of mothers after the death of a child,' was published in Economics and Human Biology.

Apart from that, it is important to sleep properly and one should avoid the usage of alcohol and drugs (although there is a strong tendency in people to find relief in the same to deal with grief).  Usage of intoxication might only push parents into further depression and put them into further problems.

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