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Miscarriage Can Jeopardize Marriage


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By Margarita Nahapetyan

According to a new study, married couples face risk of divorce after going through a miscarriage or stillbirth, and unmarried partners are even at much higher risk of going their separate ways after pregnancy loss.

The study, investigating the relationship between marriage, childbirth, miscarriage and divorce, involved more than 3,700 married or cohabitating couples in the United States, who had at least one pregnancy. Scientists from the University of Michigan Health System, identified that from a total of 7,770 pregnancies, 82 per cent ended in a childbirth, while 16 per cent resulted in a miscarriage and 2 per cent in a stillbirth. After a thorough analysis, they came to the conclusion that a substantial number of relationships who went through a miscarriage or stillbirth were more likely to end in the following years, when compared to couples who had a child.

According to the results, couples had suffered a miscarriage were 22 per cent more likely to break up after the loss of a baby compared to their counterparts who had a successful pregnancy. The peaks for split-ups were at eighteen months and 3 years following the miscarriage. However, those couples who had suffered a stillbirth or other loss after 20 weeks of pregnancy, were 40 per cent more likely to separate for a full ten years following the loss of pregnancy.

Even after the investigators accounted for several other factors that were associated with relationship break ups, such as younger age, low household incomes and cohabitation instead of marriage, miscarriage and stillbirth themselves were still linked to higher risks of split ups.

According to Dr. David Keefe, chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at New York University Langone Medical Center, after suffering a miscarriage, men and women experience the loss in different ways. To compare with a man, for a woman, the sense of loss lasts much longer. And while men without any doubt bond emotionally with the fetus and the idea of being a father, women also go through physical changes that intensify the attachment, Dr. Keefe explained. In addition, men and women tend to grieve in different ways, with women experiencing a constant desire to discuss the loss and men wanting just to "close up and go play golf," Dr. Keefe said, adding that though there are always exceptions.

The experts wrote in their report that it is quite possible that having a baby could help sustain relationships, rather than a miscarriage contributing to the risk of a separation. There is also a possibility that some unknown factors could increase both the risk of miscarriage and risk of a breakup, such as mental illness or other chronic physical conditions.

The research was published in the journal Pediatrics and cited in The New York Times.

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