OBJECTIVE:

The goal was to evaluate marriage and cohabitation outcomes for couples who experienced a live birth or fetal death at any gestational age.

METHODS:

For married and cohabitating women who experienced live births, miscarriages, or stillbirths, we conducted a survival analysis (median follow-up period: 7.8 years), by using data from the National Survey of Family Growth, to examine the association between birth outcomes and subsequent relationship survival. The Cox proportional-hazards models controlled for multiple independent risk factors known to affect relationship outcomes. The main outcome measure was the proportion of intact marriages or cohabitations over time.

RESULTS:

Of 7770 eligible pregnancies, 82% ended in live births, 16% in miscarriages, and 2% in stillbirths. With controlling for known risk factors, women who experienced miscarriages (hazard ratio: 1.22 [95% confidence interval: 1.08–1.38]; P = .001) or stillbirths (hazard ratio: 1.40 [95% confidence interval: 1.10–1.79]; P = .007) had a significantly greater hazard of their relationship ending, compared with women whose pregnancies ended in live births.

CONCLUSIONS:

This is the first national study to establish that parental relationships have a higher risk of dissolving after miscarriage or stillbirth, compared with live birth. Given the frequency of pregnancy loss, these findings might have significant societal implications if causally related.

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