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Grieving men at increased risk of mortality after spouse death

Press Trust of India  |  London 

Researchers from the Rochester Institute of Technology in America found men to be a third more likely to die after being recently widowed, compared with their normal risk of mortality.

Women, on the other hand, had no increased chance of dying after their husbands passed away, with researchers suggesting they are likely to be more independent and prepared, The Telegraph reported.

"When a wife dies, men are often unprepared. They have often lost their caregiver, someone who cares for them physically and emotionally, and the loss directly impacts the husband's health," Professor Javier Espinosa, who led the study said.

"This same mechanism is likely weaker for most women when a husband dies.

Therefore, the connection in mortalities for wives may be a reflection of how similar mates' lives become over time," he said.

Researchers used data records from married people born between 1910 and 1930 to examine when partners died in relation to one another.

The study found men who are grieving after their wife's death experience a 30 per cent increase in mortality. For women, there is no increased chance of dying due to the loss of their husband.

The team also conducted research into maternal mortality, compiling results from more than 69,000 mothers aged between 20 and 50 over nine years.

The study found that the impact on mother mortality is strongest in the two years immediately following the child's death, with grieving mothers three times more likely to die.

The chances of a mother dying increases as much as 133 per cent after they lose a child.

The study was published in the Economics and Human Biology journal.

First Published: Tue, October 23 2012. 14:55 IST
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