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Pregnancy loss linked to divorce

Studies have shown that married couples' risk of divorce can go up after the death of a child, and now new findings suggest that relationships may also become more fragile after a miscarriage or stillbirth.

Pregnancy loss linked to divorce

Studies have shown that married couples' risk of divorce can go up after the death of a child, and now new findings suggest that relationships may also become more fragile after a miscarriage or stillbirth.

In a study of more than 3,700 U.S. married or cohabitating couples who  had at least one pregnancy, researchers found that those who had suffered a miscarriage or stillbirth were more likely to break up in subsequent years than couples who had a baby.

Some studies in the past have found that while bereavement brings some couples closer together, the general risk of divorce appears to climb after losing a child. To further explore the relationship between marriage, childbirth/miscarriage and divorce, researchers in the USA identified 3,707 married or cohabitating women who had a total of 7,770 pregnancies; 82 percent ended in a birth, while 16 percent ended in miscarriage and 2 percent in a stillbirth. A substantial number of relationships ended during the study period.

Among couples who had a live birth, more than 40 percent broke up within 10 years. But among couples who had a stillbirth, that figure was nearly 60 percent; with  close to half of couples who had a miscarriage breaking  up within a decade. Specifically, couples who had a miscarriage (the loss of a fetus before the 20th week of pregnancy) were 22 percent more likely to separate during the 15-year study period than those who had a live birth. With stillbirth (loss of a fetus after 20 weeks but before birth), the risk was 40 percent greater. And while the increased risk associated with miscarriage was seen within three years of the loss, the risk linked to stillbirth persisted for nearly a decade.

Even when the researchers accounted for several other factors related to relationship dissolution - like younger age, lower incomes and cohabitation rather than marriage - miscarriage and stillbirth themselves were still associated with higher risks of breakups.
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