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

Harper, M., O'Connor, R. C. and O'Carroll, R. E. (2011) Increased mortality in parents bereaved in the first year of their child's life. BMJ Supportive and Palliative Care, 1(3), pp. 306-309. (doi:10.1136/bmjspcare-2011-000025)

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Abstract

Objective: To identify the relative risk (RR) of mortality in bereaved parents compared with non-bereaved counterparts.<p></p> Design: Retrospective data linkage study. <p></p> Setting: United Kingdom, 1971–2006. <p></p> 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.<p></p> Main outcome measures: Death or widowhood of the parent.<p></p> 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.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:O'Connor, Professor Rory and O'Carroll, Prof Ronan
Authors: Harper, M., O'Connor, R. C., and O'Carroll, R. E.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > Mental Health and Wellbeing
Journal Name:BMJ Supportive and Palliative Care
Publisher:BMJ Publishing Group
ISSN:2045-435X
ISSN (Online):2045-4368

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