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why miscarriages happen

miscarriage is a very common event;
Given time for your body to recover and you (and your partner’s) age is not against you, your next pregnancy will normally go well (see ‘Subsequent Pregnancies’) as the stats are little different from a first loss. You may find you are more vigilant and aware of what could cause problems for the next pregnancy, but that is no bad thing, unless it becomes obsessive. It is only self-protection if we do not feel the same joy of this new life as we did with our first pregnancy. We say, ‘our innocence was lost.’ Check ‘Recurrent Miscarriages’ if you experience further losses.

Although they are not talked about much, the majority of miscarriages are often the first pregnancy and usually in the first trimester (up to 14 weeks), and are caused by a genetic problem with that particular foetus and are due to nothing more than unfortunate bad luck and therefore are unlikely to reoccur. The generally accepted figures are that between 15% - 25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. From our own experience we suggest 1 in 4. However, that figure could be higher according to the English Professor, Sir Robert Winston, if unreported miscarriages are included. These would usually be ones that occur at home with no obvious adverse physical after affects (we assume help from a medical professional would be requested if there was and recorded by them) or was a very early miscarriage and only recognised when the pregnancy had been previously confirmed with a home test kit. Without the test these pregnancies are often not identified by women as they can just be seen as late, heavy periods. They are called ‘Chemical Pregnancies’. It is always advisable to have a check-up after any miscarriage, even belatedly, as a low grade infection can possibly affect future pregnancies.

second trimester miscarriages;
The reasons for these can be different from first trimester miscarriages and you may even find out what that reason is, although not necessarily, even sometimes after tests are done. However if you do and it is something repairable or treatable, this knowledge can work for you in a subsequent pregnancy.

possible reasons for miscarriage;

The following possible reasons are a collation of internet findings from medical sites recognised for their status and integrity. Several apply to recurrent miscarriage only. Some causes are generally accepted and others are still in the research stages. They have been edited by a medical professional.

the baby

the mother diseases or infections:

lifestyle risks; consumption;

This is the 2013 ‘Guideline of things to avoid during pregnancy’ especially relating to miscarriage. They have changed over the years, particularly with alcohol and food, some foods now acceptable and others to avoid added. (Checking out with your medical professional for any updates is advisable)

Things to avoid during pregnancy;

the father age and miscarriage;

Recent statistics in NZ give the average age of first time mothers as late as 30 years of age (35 in the USA) which adds to a higher baby loss rate. Miscarriages increase after 27 years of age, slowly at first, gaining momentum after 35 up to 25%, but even then, the chances of having a child are still reasonable. Once past 40 years of age however, the statistics progress to 33% and over 45 to when at least 50% of pregnancies miscarry. It is still possible however and happens, although the successful birth of babies to older high profile women in the news, can often be after IVF treatment is sort, (‘in vitro fertilisation’ the outcome commonly known as a ‘test tube baby’) or a miscarriage, which we don’t necessarily hear about.

The reason is that the closer to menopause and the eggs expiry date, the poorer the quality and the more chromosomal abnormalities possible. (Chromosomes are tiny structures inside the cells of the body which carry many genes. Genes determine all of a person’s physical attributes, such as sex, hair, eye colour and blood type.) The incidence of ‘Down Syndrome’ (or any other syndrome) is also more likely to occur in women over 30 years of age with the higher risk of multiple miscarriages. If the pregnancy is the result of IVF, then it is possible for the zygote (from the newly combined egg and sperm) to be tested prior to implantation. This is called the FISH test. Women with a history of problem pregnancies may request IVF. These pregnancies can progress normally and the care will be no different than that of a woman who has conceived naturally.

The physiology for women is: 3 months before women are born they have the maximum number of eggs, around 2 million. At puberty, about 300,000 but by 37 years of age of there are only 30,000, and by menopause around 1,000 eggs left.

Recent research suggests male age can also be a miscarriage factor as it is in women. In general, researchers found that miscarriage risk steadily inched upward as men grew older, doubling between the ages of 20 and 50.

Fertility also may be difficult for some women and the probability of having a baby decreases 3-5% per year after the age of 30, and like miscarriage, at a faster rate after 40. Research shows problems caused by men’s age run reasonably parallel to women’s. An older father may also mean problems like notably reduced sperm production, movement and quality, which is on the increase in western societies. Like women though there are always exceptions and normal babies are delivered.