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Am J Psychiatry. 1996 Feb;153(2):226-30.

Controlled prospective study on the mental health of women following pregnancy loss.

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Department of Clinical Psychology and Personality, University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands.



This study investigated the hypothesis that following a pregnancy loss, women have more mental health complaints than women who give birth to a living baby.


Mental health was assessed for 2,140 women during their first trimester of pregnancy through use of the Dutch version of the SCL-90. A total of 227 women who had lost their babies and 213 women who gave birth to a living baby were followed over a period of 18 months, during which their mental health was reassessed four times.


When mental health complaints at the beginning of pregnancy and reproductive loss history were taken into account, data analysis revealed that up to 6 months after their pregnancy loss, women showed greater depression, anxiety, and somatization than women who gave birth to living babies. Over time the mental health of women who had experienced a loss was found to improve and at 1 year was comparable to that of women who gave birth to living babies and to that of women in general.


The majority of women are able to recover from pregnancy loss without psychiatric treatment in about 1 year. A pregnancy loss is nevertheless a stressful life event that can give rise to a marked deterioration in a woman's mental health, particularly in the first 6 months following loss.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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