The joy of pregnancy is usually accompanied by a fear of miscarriage. Leaf through this article to get an insight on the possible causes of this medical condition.
The medical definition of a miscarriage is the spontaneous loss of a fetus before the 24 weeks gestation period, but it can occur anytime before the end of the gestation period of nine months. Most miscarriages occur before the 13th week of pregnancy and can occur in about 15 – 20% pregnancies, irrespective of the health of the woman and fetus. This is a statistic that most expecting couples are aware of, and it causes them to worry immensely. But, before one gets too worked up, it is best to understand the reasons behind it.
Causes of Miscarriage
A woman’s body undergoes several changes even before she gets pregnant. Through natural processes, the uterus, fallopian tubes, etc., all gear up for the fertilization of the egg. However, sometimes, the body rejects some processes in the early stages of pregnancy and in a few others, in the later stages. In most of the cases, a miscarriage, also known as spontaneous abortion, is sudden and unexpected.
During the First Trimester
☛ The most sensitive period after implantation is the first 14 weeks where there is a 30% chance of a miscarriage. Most of the time, it is caused due to a chromosomal abnormality, which is a genetic problem that occurs during the crossover of genes between the sperm and egg (takes place at the time of conception). Chances are this abnormality may or may not occur due to a parent’s genes. However, there is no way of ascertaining that chromosomal abnormalities will recur.
☛ Another reason for an early miscarriage is the age of the mother. Extremely young as well as older women carry a higher risk of miscarrying. It could also happen in the case of repeated miscarriages, or if one of the parents has a child or an extended family member with birth defects.
☛ Progesterone deficiency is another likely cause; however, there is no concrete evidence as yet to prove that progesterone supplements could reduce the risk of a spontaneous abortion.
☛ Another reason is known as a chance event in which miscarriages cannot be attributed to any known medical causes.
During the 2nd and 3rd Trimester
In most cases, the risk of a spontaneous abortion reduces substantially during the second trimester. However, the risk is still there.
• Miscarriages during this period are caused due to physical problems, such as structure of the womb (uterine malformation), cervical problems, growth of uterine fibroids, and problems with the umbilical cord.
• A significant number of late-term miscarriages occur due to problems with the placenta. Miscarriages are less common in the third trimester and those that occur are due to maternal as well as external factors, like ill health of the mother, excess stress, or a physical injury.
Certain Medical Conditions
☛ There are many health conditions that can have a direct impact on the life expectancy of a fetus. Uncontrolled diabetes is seen as a major reason for the occurrence of a spontaneous abortion. Women who have diabetes or later develop gestational diabetes must take adequate treatment.
☛ Hormonal disorders such as polycystic ovary syndrome, Cushing’s Syndrome, and thyroid disease may also result in this condition.
☛ Fetal or placental infection, abnormal structural anatomy of the uterus, or the occurrence of fibroid tumors could also add to the risk.
☛ An ectopic pregnancy (a complication in which the embryo gets implanted outside the uterine cavity) usually ends in a spontaneous abortion and damages the organ (where the egg gets fertilized) in the process.
☛ Autoimmune diseases and illnesses, such as rubella, chlamydia, etc., are also associated with an increased risk of a miscarriage. High blood pressure during pregnancy, known as preeclampsia, is also a likely cause.
Lifestyle plays an important role in ensuring a healthy pregnancy. As food is very important to nourish the mother and unborn child, it is extremely essential to consume the right foods.
• Avoid consuming shellfish, unwashed vegetables, raw eggs, and processed foods that contain artificial additives, caffeine, etc.
• Prenatal exposure to smoking or substance abuse interferes with the healthy development of the baby and could result in its death.
• Alcohol consumption can result in either fetal alcohol syndrome, other developmental disorders, or a miscarriage.
• Stress is also believed to be one of the causes; however, there is little scientific evidence to prove this fact.
A spontaneous abortion in a perfectly healthy pregnancy is still a baffling phenomenon for most doctors and researchers. Precaution against environmental factors and management of infection and disease is all one can do while staying positive in the head.
Disclaimer: This HerHaleness article is for informative purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.