Research published today in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) has found a link between women who experience miscarriage or stillbirth and those at risk of a stroke, further supporting our Miscarriage Matters Report findings about the wider health complications related to pregnancy and baby loss.
The BMJ study looked at the data of 618,851 women from 8 separate studies in Australia, China, Japan, Netherlands, Sweden, the UK and the US. All were between the ages of 32 – 73 when they first took part and then followed up with for an average of 11 years.
They discovered that out of the women who had reported a miscarriage, 17% also had a higher risk of a fatal stroke compared to women with no history of pregnancy loss. For those who had 3 or more miscarriages this increased to an 82% risk of fatal stroke.
The researchers also found women who had experienced stillbirth were at a 31% higher risk of non-fatal stroke, and a 7% increased risk of fatal stroke.
Researchers from the BMJ study have suggested possible explanations could be to do with endothelial cells which help control blood clotting and blood vessel contraction. Problems with these cells might be why blood vessels get blocked or inflamed during a stroke, as well as causing problems with the placenta which may lead to pregnancy or baby loss. However, more research is needed in this area before any real conclusions can be made.
These findings are in line with our own research published in The Lancet last year which highlighted the link between recurrent miscarriage and other health complications, such as an increase risk in heart disease and venous thromboembolism – a blood clot that starts in the vein and can cause heart attack and stroke.
Tommy’s Midwifery Manager, Amina, says: