Approximately 1 in 4 pregnancies in the UK sadly end with the death of the baby within the first 23 weeks of pregnancy (‘miscarriage’). It is estimated that 250,000 miscarriages occur in the UK each year.
Despite these statistics, miscarriage is still a topic which is not often openly discussed. This may be due to many factors, such as societal taboos, uncertainty as to how to talk about it, or doubt as to how to support parents who have had miscarried pregnancies.
A recent study by Imperial College London and KU Leuven in Belgium has found that 1 in 6 women who lose a baby in early pregnancy will experience long-term symptoms of post-traumatic stress.
The researchers recommend that women who have miscarried undergo screening to find out who is most at risk of psychological problems. They state that counselling and support will help many women, but that those with symptoms of post-traumatic stress need specific treatment if they are going to recover.
In many cases the cause of a miscarriage is not known and it could not be prevented, particularly at an early stage of the pregnancy. However, it is important that bereaved parents’ symptoms are not dismissed and that proper support is provided.
Whilst this study focused upon the psychological impact of miscarriage occurring during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, the loss of a baby at any stage of pregnancy is devastating for the parents.
It is hoped that awareness raised by studies such as this, by bereavement charities, and by members of the public will lead to better access to psychological support for those bereaved parents who need it.
When things go wrong
Where failings in treatment lead to a late miscarriage or stillbirth which could have been prevented, then it may be possible to bring a claim. Although no amount of financial compensation can ever make up for the loss of a child, where there is a psychiatric injury, such as post-traumatic stress, we can claim damages for specialist counselling and psychological treatment to support our clients to cope with their loss.
If you have suffered the loss of a baby, and you have concerns about your treatment, we have a national team of lawyers who offer compassionate and confidential legal advice. We have specialist expertise in clinical negligence cases surrounding stillbirth and baby loss.
Contact a member of our clinical negligence team on 01865 781000 for a free and confidential discussion.
The Freeths national clinical negligence team is headed by:
Carolyn Lowe, Partner (Oxford/Milton Keynes/London) - 01865 781019 / firstname.lastname@example.org (Foundation for Infant Loss recommended Solicitor for Buckinghamshire)
Karen Reynolds, Partner (Derby/Stoke on Trent/Birmingham) - 0845 274 6830 / email@example.com (Foundation for Infant Loss recommended Solicitor for Staffordshire)
Jane Williams, Partner (Leicester/Nottingham) - 0845 272 5724 / firstname.lastname@example.org (Foundation for Infant Loss recommended Solicitor for Leicestershire)
For further information please also visit our website at: http://www.freeths.co.uk/legal-services/individuals/clinical-negligence/
"For too long, women have not received the care they need following a miscarriage and this research shows the scale of the problem," says Jane Brewin, chief executive of miscarriage and stillbirth charity Tommy's. "Miscarriage services need to be changed to ensure they are available to everyone and women are followed up to assess their mental wellbeing with support being offered to those who need it, and advice is routinely given to prepare for a subsequent pregnancy."