Team studies connection between child, mother mortality

October 19, 2012, Rochester Institute of Technology

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.

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

Related Stories

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.

Infant mortality linked to subsequent risk of stillbirth finds new US study

September 21, 2011
Women whose first pregnancy ended in infant death are significantly more likely to have a subsequent stillbirth finds new research published today (21 September) in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

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.

Recommended for you

Placental accumulation of flame retardant chemical alters serotonin production in rats

January 22, 2018
A North Carolina State University-led research team has shown a connection between exposure to a widely used flame retardant chemical mixture and disruption of normal placental function in rats, leading to altered production ...

Marijuana use does not lower chances of getting pregnant

January 22, 2018
Marijuana use—by either men or women—does not appear to lower a couple's chances of getting pregnant, according to a new study led by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers.

Women run faster after taking newly developed supplement, study finds

January 19, 2018
A new study found that women who took a specially prepared blend of minerals and nutrients for a month saw their 3-mile run times drop by almost a minute.

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

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.