After child dies, mom's risk of early death skyrockets: study

June 27, 2012

In the first two years following the death of a child, there is a 133% increase in the risk of the mother dying, a new study from the University of Notre Dame shows.

Titled "Maternal bereavement: the heightened mortality of mothers after the death of a child," the study is published in the current issue of Economics and Human Biology.

Researchers William Evans, a health and labor economist at Notre Dame, and Javier Espinosa of the Rochester Institute of Technology, studied 69,224 mothers aged 20 to 50 for nine years, tracking the mortality of children even after they had left the household. It is the first study of its kind using a large, nationally representative U.S. data source.

According to the study, this heightened mortality is concentrated within the first two years following the death of a child, regardless of the age of the child at the time of death. There also appeared to be no difference in results based on , mother's education, family size, the child's sex or the child's cause of death.

The sample was composed of women who are married (84%), white (87%) and non-Hispanic (91%). Slightly more than half the mothers were between the ages of 20 and 34. Approximately one half had a high school education, and one third had some or a college degree. Less than 20% had less than a .

Though this study is the first to examine after the death of a child, earlier studies from Denmark in the area of parental bereavement found that parents who experienced the death of a child had a higher risk of first-time hospitalization for a psychiatric disorder than parents who did not lose a child; and mothers had a higher relative risk than fathers, the effect of which was most acute during the first year and significantly elevated for five years or more.

Explore further: Parents who lose a baby can die of a broken heart

Related Stories

Parents who lose a baby can die of a broken heart

September 7, 2011
Parents who lose a new baby run a high risk themselves of dying prematurely, according to a British study published on Thursday.

Working mothers and the effects on children

July 22, 2011
Parents struggling to combine paid work with bringing up their children now have some positive news thanks to a new study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) on maternal employment and child socio-emotional ...

Recommended for you

Schoolchildren who use e-cigarettes are more likely to try tobacco

August 17, 2017
Vaping - or the use of e-cigarettes - is widely accepted as a safer option for people who are already smoking.

Study shows cigarette makers shifted stance on nicotine patches, gum

August 17, 2017
The use of nicotine patches, gum, lozenges, inhalers or nasal sprays—together called "nicotine replacement therapy," or NRT—came into play in 1984 as prescription medicine, which when combined with counseling, helped ...

In a nutshell: Walnuts activate brain region involved in appetite control

August 17, 2017
Packed with nutrients linked to better health, walnuts are also thought to discourage overeating by promoting feelings of fullness. Now, in a new brain imaging study, researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) ...

Federal snack program does not yield expected impacts, researchers find

August 17, 2017
A well-intentioned government regulation designed to offer healthier options in school vending machines has failed to instill better snacking habits in a sample of schools in Appalachian Virginia, according to a study by ...

Energy dense foods may increase cancer risk regardless of obesity status

August 17, 2017
Diet is believed to play a role in cancer risk. Current research shows that an estimated 30% of cancers could be prevented through nutritional modifications. While there is a proven link between obesity and certain types ...

Technology is changing Generation smartphone, and not always for the better

August 16, 2017
It's easy to imagine some graybeard long ago weighing in on how this new generation, with all its fancy wheels, missed out on the benefits of dragging stuff from place to place.

0 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.