The Risk Of Miscarriage
Miscarriage is defined as the loss of a pregnancy in the first 20 weeks of gestation. About 15 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage and it is not uncommon for a woman to miscarry in the first trimester. There are studies that have shown that between 30 to 50 percent of fertilized eggs are lost before the woman even knows she's pregnant because they happen early enough that she has her menstrual period on time. After 20 weeks, a loss of pregnancy is called a stillbirth.
What Causes A Miscarriage?
There are a number of reasons for a miscarriage. Nearly 70 percent are thought to be caused by a chromosome abnormality in the fertilized egg. What this means is that there were the wrong number of chromosomes in either the egg or the sperm and, as a consequence, the fertilized egg was unable to develop normally-so it naturally aborts-hence, a miscarriage. Miscarriage can also be caused by improper implantation of the egg in the uterus or structural problems with the embryo that means it will not develop properly. Once there is a fetal heartbeat, usually at around six weeks, the chance of a miscarriage diminishes significantly.
What Are The Pitfalls? Am I At Risk?
There are many different factors that may put a woman at risk for a miscarriage and, even though many women may miscarry, some women are more at risk than others. Some of the more common risk factors for miscarriage are:
Age: Women who are older are more inclined to conceive babies with chromosomal abnormalities and will, as a result, miscarry. The statistics show that 40-year-old women miscarry twice as frequently as 20-year-old women.
History: If a woman has had two or more miscarriages, then it is likely she'll do so again.
Problems with the uterus or cervix: Some women have weaknesses in the cervix or abnormalities in the uterus which predispose them to miscarriage.
History of birth defects or genetic problems: If these are present in either partner, there is increased risk of miscarriage.
Infections: Certain infections such as listeria, mumps, rubella, measles, cytomegalovirus, parvovirus, gonorrhea, HIV and some other infections cause miscarriage.
Lifestyle: Smoking, drinking and using drugs can all increase the risk of miscarriage. There are some studies that show that even drinking more than four cups of coffee per day can induce miscarriage.
Medications: Because certain medications have been linked to problems with conception, pregnancy and miscarriage, it is important to check with your medical caregiver before taking any type of medication. If you are already on medications, check to see if they will affect your pregnancy and if there is an alternative if it is dangerous.
Environmental Toxins: There are some chemicals and environmental hazards which will negatively affect a pregnancy. Such factors as lead, arsenic, formaldehyde, benzene and ethylene oxide as well as large doses of radiation or gases used as anethesia are also dangerous.
Paternal Issues: There is often a lack of information regarding the father's condition and as a consequence, things present in his sperm or his history may affect the pregnancy. It is important full check on his background is made to ensure there are no problems there.
While there are many issues which can endanger a pregnancy, there are precautions and choices a woman can make which will ensure a safe and full-term pregnancy.