Causes Of Miscarriage
It is a good idea to be aware of the causes of miscarriage if you are trying for a baby or if you are pregnant. Firstly it will help you to be cautious of certain things during pregnancy and secondly it will help you not to worry unnecessarily about what might cause a miscarriage.
Causes Of Miscarriage - First Trimester
The most common time for a miscarriage to happen is during the first trimester, or weeks 1 – 13.
Causes of miscarriage during this time are normally due to problems with the unborn baby (foetus) and it’s not developing properly. This is the case when a baby does not receive the right amount of chromosomes.
Chromosomes are blocks of DNA, which contain very detailed information about how a baby will develop. In a healthy pregnancy a baby will have received 46 chromosomes altogether, 23 from it’s mother and 23 from it’s father. Sometimes things go wrong at the point of conception and the baby can either get too many or too few chromosomes. This often results in a miscarriage early on because the foetus is unable to develop properly.
Estimates say that around two thirds of early miscarriages are because of chromosome problems.
Another cause of early miscarriage is problems with the placenta. The placenta is an organ that contains a network of blood vessels from the mother, linking with blood vessels that feed into the umbilical cord and supply the baby with everything it needs from the mother. If there are any problems with the development of the placenta this can also be a cause of early miscarriage.
Any of the above causes of miscarriage can happen by chance, but there is an increased risk of these happening that comes with age.
1. Women under 30 have a 1 in 10 risk of miscarriage.
2. Women between 35 and 39 have a 2 in 10 risk of miscarriage.
3. Women over 45 have higher than a 5 in 10 risk of miscarriage.
Other things that can increase the risk of a miscarriage include the following:
1. Smoking during pregnancy
2. Drug abuse during pregnancy
3. Obesity in the mother
4. Drinking more that 200mg of caffeine per day during pregnancy
5. Drinking more than 2 units of alcohol per week during pregnancy
Causes Of Miscarriage - Second Trimester
Miscarriages that occur during the second trimester or weeks 14 - 26 are usually a result of underlying health issues with the mother.
Some long-term illnesses that can increase the risk of miscarriage are:
1. High blood pressure – if it is severe.
2. Diabetes – if is not controlled.
3. Lupus – a condition where the immune system attacks healthy tissue.
4. Kidney disease.
5. Coeliac disease – a condition that effects the digestive system.
6. An overactive or an underactive thyroid.
7. Hughes Syndrome – a higher than usual level in of a certain antibody called antiphospholipid that can cause blood clots that cut of the blood supply to the unborn baby.
Sometimes miscarriages can be caused by infections such as:
1. German measles – otherwise known as rubella.
2. Toxoplasmosis – a bacterial infection.
3. Bacterial vaginosis – an infection of the vagina.
5. Sexually transmitted infections – gonorrhoea, chlamydia and syphilis.
6. Malaria – a tropical disease spread by mosquitoes.
7. Cytomegalovirus – a type of herpes infection that can cause problems if passed from mother to unborn baby.
There are some medicines that can be linked with miscarriages and if you are on medication and trying to get pregnant it is best to talk to your doctor about what is and isn’t safe to take during pregnancy.
Sometimes women suffer with scarring on the surface of their womb or fibroids, which are benign (non-cancerous) growths inside the womb. Both of these can lead to miscarriage during the second trimester.
Although it can’t always be pinpointed what is the cause of a miscarriage, it is still good to be aware of what can cause it. In some instances this knowledge can be enough to prevent it from happening.
If you have an illness that can increase the risk of miscarriage it would be a good idea to talk to your doctor and ensure you get regular check ups and antenatal care.
If you have unfortunately experienced a miscarriage in early pregnancy I really feel for you. It is a terrible thing to go through. Remembering the likely cause of it, the problems with the development of the foetus, can help you to get through it, knowing that the baby was not well and it wouldn’t have been a healthy pregnancy if it had continued. Just try to keep positive and keep trying, the next one is likely to be perfectly fine.
For women who have experienced multiple miscarriages and don’t know why, I would advise you to seek medical advice straight away. If you can take steps toward understanding what might be the cause then it will help you to deal with the sadness of what you are going through.
The more we know about pregnancy-related topics such as the causes of miscarriage, the higher our chances are of having happy and healthy pregnancies.
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