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15 January 2020 08:32

Rainie Cross EastEnders Jake Wood

Third of women have PTSD after losing baby through miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy

One in six women suffer from long-term PTSD symptoms following a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy, research suggests. One in six women suffer long-term post-traumatic stress almost a year after miscarrying, research suggests (stock) Scientists from Imperial College London and KU Leuven in Belgium studied over 650 women who had experienced an early pregnancy loss. 'The treatment women receive following early pregnancy loss must change to reflect its psychological impact, and recent efforts to encourage people to talk more openly about this very common issue are a step in the right direction. The women in the study who met the criteria for post-traumatic stress reported regularly having flashbacks about their miscarriage. The team said the results could have been skewed because women who were already experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress may have been more likely to respond to the questionnaire.

Jane Brewin, chief executive of the charity Tommy's comments, said: 'For too long women have not received the care they need following a miscarriage and this research shows the scale of the problem. One in six women experience long-term post-traumatic stress following miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. This is the finding of the largest ever study into the psychological impact of early-stage pregnancy loss, from scientists at Imperial College London and KU Leuven in Belgium. The research, published in the journal American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, studied over 650 women who had experienced an early pregnancy loss, of whom the majority had suffered an early miscarriage (defined as pregnancy loss before 12 weeks), or an ectopic pregnancy (where an embryo starts to grow outside the womb and is not viable). The study revealed that one month following pregnancy loss, nearly a third of women (29 per cent) suffered post-traumatic stress while one in four (24 per cent) experienced moderate to severe anxiety, and one in ten (11 per cent) had moderate to severe depression.

Nine months later, 18 per cent of women had post-traumatic stress, 17 per cent moderate to severe anxiety, and 6 per cent had moderate to severe depression. This research suggests the loss of a longed-for child can leave a lasting legacy, and result in a woman still suffering post-traumatic stress nearly a year after her pregnancy loss." Professor Bourne, who is also a Consultant Gynaecologist, added: "The treatment women receive following early pregnancy loss must change to reflect its psychological impact, and recent efforts to encourage people to talk more openly about this very common issue are a step in the right direction. Whilst general support and counselling will help many women, those with significant post-traumatic stress symptoms require specific treatment if they are going to recover fully. The research follows an earlier pilot study in 2016, which investigated the psychological impact of early-stage pregnancy loss in 128 women one and three months after miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. The results revealed the latter women's levels of psychological symptoms were significantly lower than those found in women who had suffered early pregnancy loss.

The women in the study who met the criteria for post-traumatic stress reported regularly re-experiencing the feelings associated with the pregnancy loss, and suffering intrusive or unwanted thoughts about their miscarriage. Post-traumatic stress can have a toxic effect on all elements of a person's life – affecting work, home and relationships Dr Jessica Farren Study author The team also explain that women who were already experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress and depression may have been more likely to respond to the questionnaire, which could mean the number of women suffering psychological symptoms may appear higher. Dr Jessica Farren, first author of the research from Imperial, and Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, said: "Post-traumatic stress can have a toxic effect on all elements of a person's life – affecting work, home and relationships." Many women don't tell colleagues, friends or family they are pregnant before the 12-week scan, leaving them feeling unable to discuss their emotions if they suffer a pregnancy loss. We also know partners can suffer psychological distress following miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy, and are investigating this in ongoing research." The team's research will also now focus on identifying which women are at risk of developing psychological symptoms after pregnancy loss, the impact of early pregnancy loss on partners and also the best type of treatments and how to deliver these. Dr Farren's study clearly shows that a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy can have profound and long-lasting impacts on women's mental health and we look forward to seeing how this important research can be translated into better care for patients and their families in the future." Jane Brewin, Chief Executive of Tommy's comments, said: "For too long women have not received the care they need following a miscarriage and this research shows the scale of the problem.

'Post-traumatic stress, anxiety and depression following miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy: a multi-center, prospective, cohort study' by J. Around 18% of women experience post-traumatic stress after a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy, new research suggests. The study looked at the psychological impact of early-stage pregnancy loss. Researchers looked at 653 women who had experienced early pregnancy loss. They majority had suffered an early miscarriage – defined as a pregnancy loss before 12 weeks, or an ectopic pregnancy. Published in the journal American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, the study found that one month after pregnancy loss 29% suffered post-traumatic stress. After nine months, 18% of women had post-traumatic stress, 17% had moderate to severe anxiety, and 6% had moderate to severe depression. Professor Tom Bourne, lead author of the research from Tommy's National Centre for Miscarriage Research at Imperial College London, said: "Pregnancy loss affects up to one in two women, and for many women it will be the most traumatic event in their life. "This research suggests the loss of a longed-for child can leave a lasting legacy, and result in a woman still suffering post-traumatic stress nearly a year after her pregnancy loss." He added: "The treatment women receive following early pregnancy loss must change to reflect its psychological impact, and recent efforts to encourage people to talk more openly about this very common issue are a step in the right direction." According to the results, the psychological symptoms of women with healthy pregnancies were significantly lower than in women who had suffered early pregnancy loss. Participants who met the criteria for post-traumatic stress reported regularly re-experiencing the feelings associated with the pregnancy loss, and suffering intrusive or unwanted thoughts about their miscarriage. The authors caution the study used a questionnaire for screening, but formal diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder would require a clinical interview. They add that women who were already experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress and depression may have been more likely to respond to the questionnaire. Dr Jessica Farren, first author of the research from Imperial College, and obstetrician and gynaecologist, said: "Post-traumatic stress can have a toxic effect on all elements of a person's life – affecting work, home and relationships." Almost a fifth of women who had a miscarriage early in pregnancy were still suffering from PTSD after nine months ALAMY Losing a baby early through miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy can leave women with post traumatic stress disorder, a study has found. Almost a third of women who had a miscarriage early in pregnancy were found to be suffering from the disorder, known as PTSD, a month later, with almost a fifth still suffering after nine months, according to the largest study into the psychological impact. Researchers from Tommy's National Centre for Miscarriage Research at Imperial College London studied a group of women, including 737 who had lost their pregnancy before 12 weeks.