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The health ministry has said it will launch a survey on the psychological impact of miscarriages and stillbirths.

The move is part of the ministry’s first-ever program to support women who have miscarried or given birth to stillborn babies after 12 weeks of pregnancy, ministry officials said.

According to the officials, questionnaires will be sent to all 47 prefectural governments and municipalities in the country within fiscal 2020 ending next March in cooperation with a private-sector survey firm.

Through the survey, the ministry aims to understand the local authorities’ efforts to support women who have been unable to have a live birth, problems on which such women have sought advice and challenges the authorities are facing.

In addition, a study group comprising obstetrics experts and local governments’ pregnancy counselors will be set up as early as next month. The group will be asked to scrutinize the survey results and compile guidelines by the end of the current fiscal year for local authorities on how to psychologically treat of those women.

Ministry data shows that in 2018 some 20,000 women across the country lost their babies as a result of miscarriage or giving birth to stillborns after the first 12 weeks of gestation.

Miscarriages and stillbirths are believed to cause not only physical burdens but also psychological damage often lasting several years, with some experts suggesting affected women can be prone to depression and posttraumatic stress disorder.

But it is not easy for others to recognize the problems, as some women are not able to open up about their experiences with miscarriage or stillbirth.

Currently, local governments provide pregnancy-related support for women including those suffering infertility. But psychological damage from miscarriages and stillbirths are out of the scope of their assistance.

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