Miscarriage: Risk Factors That Could Affect A Pregnancy

Miscarriage is a pregnancy that self-terminates before you hit the 20th week mark of your pregnancy. Losing a baby through miscarriage can be quite devastating. But miscarriage is often just nature’s way of intervening when things don’t turn out well, in some cases to save the life of the mother. For those who have had one or more miscarriages, they may be wondering what went wrong and things that can be done rightly to prevent a reoccurrence.

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Remember, a miscarriage is more likely to be the result of something beyond your control. Understanding what causes a miscarriage might help you find some closure and take precautions for future pregnancies.

Miscarriages: Pregnancies That End On Their Own By Week 20 of Gestation

Miscarriage is a pregnancy that aborts itself before you hit the 20th week mark of your pregnancy. During a miscarriage, you may have abdominal pain, cramping, bleeding, or vaginal spotting and notice tissue or fluid passing out from the vagina.

Most Miscarriages Happen In Early Pregnancy

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, about 10% of all pregnancies will end in a miscarriage in early pregnancy.

The majority of miscarriages happen in the first trimester. In fact, as many as 8 out of 10 miscarriages, on average, happen during this period. This is perhaps one of the reasons for the traditional wisdom of not announcing the pregnancy to the world at large until you are past this mark. A pregnancy that is lost in the first 13 weeks is an early miscarriage. Medical professionals may also refer to this as a spontaneous abortion.

Causes of Miscarriages

  1. Maternal health issues during pregnancy and infection

Miscarriages in the second trimester (between weeks 14–26) appear to be connected to a health problem in the mother. Here are some possible causes:

  • Uterine anomaliesDeformed or divided uterus like uterine septum may increase the risk of miscarriage. Arcuate uterus where the uterine cavity is concave instead of convex or straight toward the fundus is connected to miscarriages in second trimester.
  • Weakened cervix: This condition can also be called cervical incompetence. Some of these problems can be evaded with medical intervention. A doctor may put in a stitch after week 12 to keep the cervix closed if you have a weakened cervix.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome: PCOS may also increase the risk of miscarriage. Higher insulin levels in the blood can cause increased blood clotting and affect the placenta, stopping it from properly supplying nutrients to the baby or eliminating toxins/waste. This can cause a miscarriage.
  • Hughes syndrome or antiphospholipid syndrome (APS): This condition can cause your blood to clot, affecting the pregnancy and raising miscarriage risk. Your doctor may prescribe a combination of heparin and aspirin to reduce your risk.
  • Rubella: Having rubella during early pregnancy (up to month 4) can raise your risk of birth defects and miscarriages. Ensure you get your MMR shots before getting pregnant because this vaccination cannot be given to pregnant women.
  1. Abnormal Chromosomes

Having sexual intercourse, exercising, working too hard, or being on birth control pills before getting pregnant does not cause miscarriages, contrary to what you may have heard. Even a sudden shock or fall is unlikely to cause such a loss unless directly impacting the fetus.

Medical professionals say that around 50% of miscarriages in the first trimester are due to abnormal chromosome count in the embryo. This may be because the egg or the sperm didn’t come with the complete set of 23 chromosomes needed to make up the full 46 that the embryo needs to become a baby. Development of the embryo as the pregnancy progresses will also be abnormal and could result in a miscarriage.

  1. Alcohol And Drug Intake

Drinking when you are pregnant could raise your risk of miscarriage as well as of stillbirths, premature births, and even sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) after your baby is born. And yes, it doesn’t matter even if you drink very small to moderate amounts, that risk still exists even if you aren’t a heavy drinker. The health authorities warn that there is no known safe amount of alcohol that you can consume when you’re expecting. They also go on to say that there isn’t a specific type of alcohol that they deem safe. Likewise, there isn’t a safe time or window in which it is okay to drink without affecting your pregnancy or your baby. Needless to say, the same goes for drug abuse.

  1. High intake of Caffeine

Some researchers say caffeine intake causes high risk of miscarriage, others disagree. Since there are mixed results, we can’t be sure. So, until there’s a more conclusive research, it is best to cut caffeine intake and have no more than 200 mg (the amount in a 12 oz cup of coffee) a day.

  1. Smoking

Avoid exposure to smoke and quit on smoking yourself too to avoid miscarriage. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that women who smoke while they are pregnant are more likely to suffer a miscarriage than women who don’t. Even if you do escape that bullet, it also raises your risk of having a preterm birth or a baby with a low birth weight.

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An early pregnancy miscarriage will normally pass out from your vagina accompanied by some cramping and the passage of fluid/tissue. You may not require any treatment after this. If, however, there is some tissue left in your uterus, a doctor may need to give you medicines or perform a dilatation and curettage (D&C) procedure to remove this tissue. Ensure you get the right medical help. Many women also benefit from speaking to a counselor to deal with the loss.


Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

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