Women may be at risk of post-traumatic stress disorder following a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy, a new study suggests.

The team behind the research, from Imperial College London, say the findings suggest women should be routinely screened for the condition, and receive specific psychological support following pregnancy loss.

In the study, published in the journal BMJ Open, the team surveyed 113 women who had recently experienced a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy.

The majority of the women in the study had suffered a miscarriage in the first three months of pregnancy, while around 20 per cent had suffered an ectopic pregnancy, where the baby starts to grow outside of the womb.

The results revealed four in ten women reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) three months after the pregnancy loss.

Miscarriage affects one in four pregnancies in the UK, and is defined as the loss of a baby before 24 weeks – although most miscarriages occur before 12 weeks.

Ectopic pregnancies are much rarer, affecting around one in 90 pregnancies. The fertilised egg usually implants in the fallopian tubes connected to the womb, where it cannot grow, and so the pregnancy either miscarries or must be ended surgically or with pharmaceutical intervention.

In the new study, the scientists sent the women questionnaires asking them about their thoughts and feelings after their pregnancy loss.

All of the women had attended the Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit at Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea Hospital, West London.

The results revealed that three months after the pregnancy loss, nearly four in ten women (38 per cent) met criteria for probable PTSD.

Among the women who suffered a miscarriage, 45 per cent reported PTSD symptoms 3 months later, compared to 18 per cent of the women who suffered an ectopic pregnancy.

 

To read the full article in the BMJ Open

You can also find this article on Imperial College London’s website

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