The association between psychological stress and stroke remains uncertain. We therefore examined whether or not one of the most extreme psychological stressors, the death of a child, was associated with the risk of stroke in a nationwide population-based follow-up study. All 21,062 parents who lost a child in Denmark during 1980–1996 were compared with 293,745 parents who had not lost a child. The overall adjusted relative risk (RR) of stroke was 1.00 (95% CI = 0.83–1.20) among the exposed after up to 18 years of follow-up. The RRs for fatal stroke and nonfatal stroke were 0.69 (95% CI = 0.37–1.26) and 1.03 (95% CI = 0.85–1.24), respectively. The RRs for hemorrhagic and nonhemorrhagic stroke were 1.02 (95% CI = 0.77–1.36) and 0.94 (95% CI = 0.74–1.20), respectively. The risk of stroke did not differ irrespective of whether the death of the child was unexpected or not. The death of a child was not associated with any substantially increased risk of stroke in the bereaved parents.

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