Women at risk of PTSD after miscarriage

Women who suffer a miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy may be at risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a new study has found.

PTSD is an anxiety disorder that can occur after experiencing an intensely stressful event. It has been well documented in relation to military conflict, but it can also occur as a result of other scenarios, such as road traffic accidents, a violent assault or a serious illness.

Common symptoms include nightmares, flashbacks and high blood pressure. These may not begin until weeks, months or even years after the event.

UK researchers looked at 113 women who had recently suffered a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. As many as one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage, which refers to the death of a baby before 24 weeks. Most miscarriages occur within the first 12 weeks.

An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the embryo implants somewhere other than the uterus, such as in the fallopian tubes, where it cannot grow. The pregnancy ends in miscarriage or it has to be ended with the use of surgery or medicine.

Among the 113 women, most had suffered a miscarriage within the first three months of their pregnancy, while one in five had suffered an ectopic pregnancy.

The study found that overall, 38% of the women had symptoms of PTSD three months after losing their baby. Among those who suffered a miscarriage, 45% had PTSD symptoms three months later.

Almost one-third of those affected said that their symptoms had impacted on their work life, while four in 10 said that their relationships with family and friends had been adversely affected.

We were surprised at the high number of women who experienced symptoms of PTSD after early pregnancy loss. The symptoms that may be triggered can have a profound effect on all aspects of a woman's everyday life, from her work to her relationships with friends and family," commented the study's lead author, Dr Jessica Farren, of Imperial College London.

The researchers believe that women should be routinely screened for PTSD and receive specific psychological support when they suffer a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy.

Details of these findings are published in the journal, BMJ Open.


[Posted: Fri 04/11/2016]

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