One in six women who lose a baby in early pregnancy experience long-term post-traumatic stress, according to research supported by Imperial Health Charity.

The study, carried out by scientists at Imperial College London and KU Leuven in Belgium, was published in the journal American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

By speaking to over 650 women who had experienced an early pregnancy loss, researchers found that 18 per cent had post-traumatic stress nine months later. 17 per cent had moderate to severe anxiety, and 6 per cent had moderate to severe depression.

The team behind the study, funded by the charity and the National Institute of Health Research Imperial Biomedical Research Centre, called for immediate improvements in the care women receive following an early-stage pregnancy loss.

Professor Tom Bourne, lead author of the research from Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research at Imperial College London said: “Pregnancy loss affects up to one in two women, and for many women it will be the most traumatic event in their life.

“This research suggests the loss of a longed-for child can leave a lasting legacy, and result in a woman still suffering post-traumatic stress nearly a year after her pregnancy loss.”

The study is the largest examining the psychological impact of early-stage pregnancy loss. Its findings were widely reported, including by the BBCITVNew Scientist and The Times.

Ian Lush, Chief Executive at Imperial Health Charity, said: “As the dedicated charity for the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust hospitals, we are committed to supporting pioneering research that leads to real improvements in patient care through our annual research fellowships programme.

“The study clearly shows that a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy can have profound and long-lasting impacts on women’s mental health and we look forward to seeing how this important research can be translated into better care for patients and their families in the future.”

The charity has been a long-term supporter of ground-breaking research at the Trust. Last year, our grants programme awarded £324,000 to fund research fellowships, helping hospital staff carry out pioneering studies into improving patient care.

To read about the Research Fellowships Programme, click here. Find out more about the study here. You can find Imperial Health Charity’s website here.