Scientists have had a hard time finding data to support the widespread notion that parents are more likely to divorce following the death of a child. But a new study finds that the risk is indeed higher for couples after a pregnancy goes awry.
Researchers from the University of Michigan Medical School used nationwide data on U.S. families to track the outcomes of pregnancies and the effects on parents. They calculated that couples who experienced a miscarriage were 22% more likely to break up than couples whose pregnancies resulted in the birth of a child. The increased risk persisted for three years.
Things were even worse for couples coping with a stillbirth – their odds of splitting were 40% higher, and the risk persisted for nine years, the researchers found.
About 15% of pregnancies end in miscarriage (the loss of a pregnancy during the first 20 weeks of gestation) and 1% end in stillbirth (loss after 20 weeks), so the number of relationships that end in the wake of these losses is significant, according to the researchers.
The study will be published in the May edition of the journal Pediatrics.
-- Karen Kaplan
Photo: When pregnancies don't end in a live birth, couples face an increased risk of separation. Photo credit: Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune/MCT