Parents who lose a child younger than 1 year of age are more likely to die early, according to a British study released today.

Saddened parents who lost a child less than a year old are twice as likely to die in the first 15 years following the child's death compared to parents who were not saddened in the same way, the British Medical Journal's Supportive and Palliative Care reports.

"There is evidence that bereavement is a risk factor for illness...We did expect that bereaved parents would show a higher illness factor, but we did not expect their risk to be as great as it was," said Dr. Mairi Harper, the report's lead author, according to ABC News.

The study suggests that stress from the child's loss weakens immune systems and causes long-lasting biological effects, reports ABC News.

Dr. Harper recommended that parents join support groups and connect with other parents who have lost children to cope with the pain.

"My own personal opinion is that parents don't get anywhere near the level of support and understanding they need to cope," Harper told ABC News.