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Miscarriages can lead to PTSD, says new study

Harper's Bazaar (UK) logo Harper's Bazaar (UK) 6 days ago The Editors
a woman in a white shirt: Almost a third of women who have miscarriages suffer from the condition © Getty Images Almost a third of women who have miscarriages suffer from the condition

Losing a child through a miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy could lead to PTSD, says a new study conducted by Imperial College London and KU Leuven in Belgium,

In the study of 650 women, 29 per cent showed symptoms of post-traumatic stress one month after pregnancy loss, falling to 18 per cent after nine months. The women completed questionnaires documenting their feelings over the course of a year that followed either a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy.

One in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage in the UK - with most happening early before 12 weeks - yet the subject is still rarely discussed openly.

Dr Jessica Farren, specialist registrar and clinical fellow at Imperial College London, told the BBC that miscarriage could be a very traumatic experience that could have lasting psychological damage.

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

The study advises that women who have miscarried should be screened "to find out who is most at risk of psychological problems". Counselling is thought to be helpful, but more specific treatment will be needed for those experiencing PTSD.

Another study on the subject, published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, reiterated that women could suffer mental heath issues following the loss of a pregnancy. Researchers found that 29 per cent of these women showed signs of PTSD after one month, and 18 per cent were found to be still experiencing the condition nine months on.

“Women experience high levels of post-traumatic stress, anxiety and depression after early pregnancy loss," concluded the study. "Distress declines over time but remains at clinically important levels at nine months. It represents not only the loss of a much desired child, but may also challenge an individual’s sense of control over life, and pose a threat to plans of parenthood."

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