Mothers who tragically lose a child are at a much greater risk of dying themselves in the first two years afterward, a new study has found.
University of Notre Dame researchers, writing in the issue of Economics and Human Biology, said mothers face a 133 percent increase in the risk of dying after a child dies.
The findings are based on an examination of the experiences of 69,224 American mothers -- aged 20 to 50 -- for nine years whose children had died, in some cases after they had left the household.
The study found the increased risk of death in mothers was most pronounced in the two years immediately following the death of a child, regardless of children’s age, household income, education, family size, gender or the cause of death.
Although the study is the first to examine maternal mortality after the death of a child, previous research in Denmark found parents who lose children have a higher risk of first-time hospitalization for a psychiatric disorder up to five years afterward than those who do not.