Any to-be-mother who is desirous of having a child and who has conceived a baby is very mindful of the fact that a miscarriage or a spontaneous abortion is one of the most common complications of early pregnancy and that a miscarriage is an extremely traumatic and difficult occurrence to deal with.
Studies have shown that as many as 25% of pregnancies are miscarried by the sixth week of gestation. As many as 8% of pregnancies end in a miscarriage after the 6th week.
Miscarriages can be of several different kinds:
- a complete miscarriage is when the entire contents of the uterus are expelled
- An incomplete miscarriage is when only a part of the contents of the uterus are expelled. This would typically require a D&C surgery where the uterus is dilated and scraped to expel any of the remaining pregnancy.
- A missed miscarriage is when the fetus, for some reason stops growing within the uterus and this is a condition that can usually be detected by the doctor’s investigations rather than the usual bleeding and pain that signals a miscarriage.
Factors that raises miscarriage risk
There are several factors that significantly raise chances of a woman having a miscarriage and they are:
- Advanced age of parents. This refers not only to the age of the mother but also the father. The higher the age of the parents the higher the risk of a pregnancy ending in a miscarriage
- Multiple fetus pregnancies have a higher risk of miscarriage
- A woman having uncontrolled diabetes is at a higher risk of pregnancy. This also refers to gestational diabetes (which the woman may develop for the first time when pregnant) which has to be kept in check.
- Another condition that may develop during pregnancy is pre-eclampsia or high blood pressure that also increases the risk of miscarriage.
- Women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome are at higher risk of miscarriage. Between 30 and 50% of pregnancies occurring in women with PCOS end in a miscarriage.
- Certain disorders and illnesses increase chances of having a miscarriage: for instance severe hypothyroidism increases risk of a miscarriage as do illnesses such as rubella, Chlamydia etc,
- Smoking and substance abuse such as cocaine also greatly increases the chances of miscarriage.
- Physical injury and environmental factors also can pose risk to a pregnancy.
Understanding the risk factors for a pregnancy ending in miscarriage is important in minimizing the chances of occurrence.