Team studies connection between child, mother mortality

The death of a child is a tragic event for a family, bringing with it feelings of numbness, anger, guilt and denial. And, unfortunately, for many families, the loss becomes too much to bear.

A new study co-conducted by a researcher at Rochester Institute of Technology uncovers the strong connection between the of a child and the mortality of the mother, regardless of cause of death, gender of the child, marital status, family size, income or of the mother.

Javier Espinosa, assistant professor in RIT's College of Liberal Arts and an expert in health and , compiled results from nine years of research after studying more than 69,000 mothers, ages 20 to 50. According to Espinosa, the impact to mother mortality is strongest in the two years immediately following the child's death. In fact, Espinosa's research suggests that mother mortality increases 133 percent after the death of a child.

"To my knowledge, this is the first study to empirically analyze this issue with a large, nationally represented U.S. data set," Espinosa says. "The evidence of a heightened mortality rate for the mother, particularly in the first two years of the child's passing, is especially relevant to and the timing of interventions that aim to improve the adverse after the death of a child."

Espinosa's results, "Maternal : The heightened mortality of mothers after the death of a child," co-written by William Evans from the University of Notre Dame, were recently published in the journal Economics and Human Biology.

Espinosa has also conducted extensive research on spousal mortality in which his studies lead to the conclusion that men who are grieving from a wife's death experience a 30 percent increase in mortality. For women, there is no heightened mortality due to the death of a spouse, but there remains a correlation between the timing of the wife's and husband's deaths. Espinosa believes he understands why this happens, given the data are based on a sample of married people born between 1910 and 1930.

"When a wife dies, men are often unprepared. They have often lost their caregiver—someone who cares for them physically and emotionally, and the loss directly impacts the husband's health," he says. "This same mechanism is likely weaker for most women when a husband dies. Therefore, the connection in mortalities for wives may be a reflection of how similar mates' lives become over time."

Espinosa, who earned his doctorate in economics from University of Maryland at College Park, is an expert in health economics—the sub-discipline of economics that deals with the efficient allocation of health-care resources. He teaches health-care economics and microeconomics at RIT.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

'Tis the season to overeat

1 hour ago

(HealthDay)—Overeating is common during the holidays, but there are strategies that can help you eat in moderation, an expert says.

Don't let burns mar your holidays

1 hour ago

(HealthDay)—The risk of burns from fires and cooking accidents increases during the holidays, so you need to be extra cautious, an expert says.

Irish court mulls rights of dead woman vs. fetus

Dec 24, 2014

A lawyer representing a 17-week-old fetus living inside the clinically dead body of its mother told a Dublin court Wednesday that the unborn child's right to life trumps the woman's right to a dignified death.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.