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Stillbirth memory haunts new pregnancies
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Even after a new baby arrives, women can suffer depression
Women who become pregnant soon after suffering the heartbreak of a stillborn baby are far more likely to then suffer depression and anxiety, a study has confirmed.

About 50% of women decide to try for another baby as soon as possible following the trauma of a stillbirth, or miscarriage late in pregnancy.

But researchers from St George's Hospital Medical School found that conceiving within a year substantially increased the likelihood of psychological difficulties during the pregnancy and in the post-natal period.

Risk of low birth weight

Maternal anxiety in pregnancy can lead to premature births and lower birth weights - and even impair the development of the unborn baby's brain.

The study looked at 60 women whose previous pregnancy had failed beyond the 18-week mark, assessing their mental state in the third term of the new pregnancy, and then three times after birth.

During the third term, women whose previous pregnancy had ended in stillbirth were significantly more depressed and anxious than the group of women with no experience of stillbirth.

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Depression during pregnancy can cause premature birth
Even one year after the successful birth, the stillbirth group were more than twice as likely to be depressed.

However, women who had conceived again more than 12 months after the stillbirth showed nowhere near the same level of depression or anxiety.

'A year to mourn'

"Women may need a year to mourn the lost child before beginning another pregnancy - or women who choose to conceive sooner may be intrinsically more vulnerable to depression and anxiety," said the researchers.

"The decision to have another child after late loss in pregnancy is a personal one, but parents often seek professional advice about timing the next pregnancy, although they resent being told categorically when to go ahead.

"It should also be noted that most women who went ahead quickly with another pregnancy did not experience high levels of anxiety and depression, and for some parents other considerations may outweigh the possible higher risk of psychological symptoms."

See also:

15 Jan 99 | Health
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