A miscarriage, or spontaneous abortion, is a pregnancy loss that occurs prior to 20 weeks gestation. Most miscarriages occur in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy (first trimester). A miscarriage is a naturally occurring and involuntary event in which the fetus and placenta are separated from the uterine wall.
Studies reveal that anywhere from 10-25% of all clinically recognized pregnancies will end in miscarriage. Chemical pregnancies may account for 50-75% of all miscarriages.
Miscarriages, or spontaneous abortions, occur in a continuum of 4 stages:
A threatened abortion refers to vaginal bleeding during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy that may indicate that a miscarriage could occur, although no dilation of the cervix is present; this happens in about 20% to 30% of pregnancies, although only 50% of threatened abortions actually lead to miscarriage.
An inevitable abortion has bleeding with dilation of the cervix and is more likely to lead to miscarriage than a threatened abortion.
An incomplete abortion involves bleeding, cervical dilation, cramping, and passage of some of the contents of the uterus: only tissue may be passed, while the fetus or placenta remains in the uterus.
4) Complete abortion
A complete abortion occurs when all the contents of the uterus are expelled through the vagina. All the symptoms of earlier stages of spontaneous abortion are typically present, but the miscarriage is complete and the uterus is empty.
The chances of having a Miscarriage
· Forwomen in their childbearing years, the chances of having a miscarriage can range from 10-25%, and in most healthy women the average is about a 15-20% chance.
· An increase in maternal age affects the chances of miscarriage
· Women under the age of 35 yrs old have about a 15% chance of miscarriage
· Women who are 35-45 yrs old have a 20-35% chance of miscarriage
· Women over the age of 45 can have up to a 50% chance of miscarriage
· A woman who has had a previous miscarriage has a 25% chance of having another (only a slightly elevated risk than for someone who has not had a previous miscarriage)
Causes of miscarriage
The causes for miscarriage is varied, and in most of the cases the reason in not identified. Chromosomal abnormality is one of the most common cause for abortion During the first trimester. This means there is something abnormal with the baby’s chromosomes. Most chromosomal abnormalities are the cause of a damaged egg or sperm cell, or are due to a problem at the time that the zygote went through the division process.
Other causes for miscarriage
Ø Lifestyle (i.e. smoking, drug use, malnutrition, excessive caffeine and exposure to radiation or toxic substances)
Ø Implantation of the egg into the uterine lining does not occur properly
Ø Maternal age Hormonal problems
Ø history of uterine tumors
Ø uterine defects
Ø Cervical incompetence
Ø Infections or maternal health problems
Ø Maternal trauma,
Ø uncontrolled thyroid disease or other hormonal imbalances
Ø kidney disease, active infection
Ø chronic disease (e.g., diabetes, polycysticovary syndrome, lupus erythematosus, hypertension, and antiphospholipid syndrome)
Ø Maternal-fetal Rh incompatibility may also increase the risk of miscarriage.
Factors that are not proven to cause miscarriage are sex, working outside the home (unless in a harmful environment) or moderate exercise.
The Warning signs of Miscarriage
If you experience any or all of these symptoms, it is important to contact your health care provider or a medical facility to evaluate if you could be having a miscarriage:
Ø Mild to severe back pain (often worse than normal menstrual cramps)
Ø Weight loss
Ø White-pink mucus
Ø True contractions (very painful happening every 5-20 minutes)
Ø Brown or bright red bleeding with or without cramps (20-30% of all pregnancies can experience some bleeding in early pregnancy, with about 50% of those resulting in normal pregnancies)
Ø Tissue with clot like material passing from the vagina
Ø Sudden decrease in signs of pregnancy
Prevention of Miscarriage:
Since the cause of most miscarriages is due to chromosomal abnormalities, there is not much that can be done to prevent them. One vital step is to get as healthy as you can before conceiving to provide a healthy atmosphere for conception to occur.
· Exercise regularly
· Eat healthy
· Manage stress
· Keep weight within healthy limits
· Take folic acid daily
· Do not smoke