Women Need More Specific Care Following A Miscarriage, According To Researchers

One in six women experiences long-term post-traumatic stress following a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy, according to a new study.

More sensitive and specific care is needed after miscarriages or ectopic pregnancies, according to researchers who took part in a recent UK study. 

In the study of 650 women – the largest of its kind on the matter – by Imperial College London and KU Leuven in Belgium, 29% showed symptoms of post-traumatic stress one month after pregnancy loss, declining to 18% after nine months.

Most had been through an early miscarriage before 12 weeks - while the rest had had an ectopic pregnancy.

One month following their loss, 24% had symptoms of anxiety and 11% of depression. This reduced to 17% and 6% after nine months, the study found.

The team behind the research, funded by the Imperial Health Charity and the Imperial National Institute of Health Research Biomedical Research Centre, call for immediate improvements in the care women receive following an early-stage pregnancy loss.  

Miscarriage is defined as the spontaneous end of a pregnancy before 20 weeks of gestation.

About one in every five pregnancies in Ireland ends in miscarriage, which means there are approximately 50 miscarriages a day on average. Approximately 14,000 women in Ireland each year have a miscarriage.

Dr Jessica Farren, specialist registrar and clinical fellow at Imperial College London said miscarriage could be a very traumatic experience.

"For some women, it's the first time they have experienced anything beyond their control. These can be profound events which stay with you."

An earlier, smaller study from 2016 found that early pregnancy loss could trigger symptoms of post-traumatic stress.

"For too long, women have not received the care they need following a miscarriage and this research shows the scale of the problem," says Jane Brewin, chief executive of miscarriage and stillbirth charity Tommy's.

"Miscarriage services need to be changed to ensure they are available to everyone and women are followed up to assess their mental wellbeing with support being offered to those who need it, and advice is routinely given to prepare for a subsequent pregnancy."

READ MORE: Bogus Number and Imagery Advertised As HSE Unplanned Pregnancy Service

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