Research published in the Lancet has highlighted the profound impact of miscarriage
The findings from Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research include profound psychological effects on both parents: miscarriage almost quadrupled the risk of suicide, doubled the risk of depression, and similarly raised the risk of anxiety.
The charity is calling for sweeping changes to care and support and for the Government to overhaul a system that it says currently denies many families the help they need.
This is important research in an area that deserves greater focus and confirms what we hear day in day out from bereaved parents who contact Sands for support, that miscarriage is devastating for mothers and can have profound and long lasting effects on both parents’ physical and mental health.
It’s vital that when a baby dies, both parents receive the best possible bereavement care wherever they live in the UK. Good bereavement care cannot take away the pain of their loss but it can make a massive difference to how those parents deal with their grief and can also help to identify when someone may need specialist psychological support.
Sands leads the government backed National Bereavement Care Pathway in collaboration with bereaved families, other charities and Royal Colleges, which includes pathways for miscarriage and provides health care professionals with what they need to deliver excellent care.
It’s also vital to connect bereaved parents with additional support that is right for them, at hospital, in their community, or from employers. Sands is here to support anyone affected by the death of a baby during pregnancy or soon after birth and to ensure all NHS workers have the confidence and skills to care for families when the worst happens.
- Clea Harmer, Chief Executive at Sands
Sadly it’s often not possible to give a reason why a miscarriage happened, but the research identifies a few things that can make it more likely. Some of them can be controlled, like drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes – but many cannot, so the researchers say that care and support must be targeted at these higher-risk groups, on top of nationwide changes to make quality services consistently available to everyone.
While the link between age and miscarriage is well established, the study uncovered a significant risk to Black women, with 40% higher miscarriage rates in this group.
The variation in quality and availability of miscarriage care across the UK can lead to lifelong problems for families already enduring an unbearable experience; it shouldn’t matter who you are or where you live, and you shouldn’t have to endure repeated heart-breaking losses before you get the right help. Everyone should be given care and advice after each miscarriage to reduce the chance of it happening again, with specialist support for those most at risk.
Mothers’ care must consider their long-term risks, especially in future pregnancies, and both parents must be offered mental health support. We know what to do and how to do it – now we need a commitment from the NHS to put the knowledge we have into practice everywhere. With national targets to reduce premature birth and stillbirth, it’s time to prioritise miscarriage too.
- Tommy’s CEO Jane Brewin
To find out more about the research go to tommys.org/miscarriagematters