OBJECTIVE: To assess whether mothers who lost a child from stillbirth or in the first week of life have an increased overall mortality and cause-specific mortality.
DESIGN: A population based follow-up study.
SETTING: Data from Danish national registers.
POPULATION: All mothers in Denmark were included in the cohort at time of their first delivery from 1 January 1980 to 31 December 2008 and followed until 31 December 2009 or death, whichever came first.
METHODS: The association between perinatal loss and total and cause-specific mortality in mothers was estimated with hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) calculated using Cox proportional hazards regression analyses.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Overall mortality and cause-specific mortality.
RESULTS: During the follow-up period, 838 331 mothers in the cohort gave birth to one or more children and 7690 mothers (0.92%) experienced a perinatal loss. During follow-up, 8883 mothers (1.06%) died. There was an increased overall mortality for mothers who experienced a perinatal loss adjusted for maternal age and educational level, hazard ratio (HR) 1.83 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.55-2.17]. The strongest association was seen in mortality from cardiovascular diseases (CVD) with an HR of 2.29 (95% CI 1.48-3.52) adjusted for CVD at time of delivery. We found no association between a perinatal loss and mortality from traumatic causes.
CONCLUSIONS: Mothers who experience a perinatal loss have an increased mortality, especially from CVD.