Causes and Risk of Miscarriage

There are several factors attributed to the causes of miscarriage though in many cases, many of the reasons still remain unknown. Some of the known causes of miscarriage are:

  • Genetic Defects and Abnormalities: This is the most common cause of a miscarriage and occurs due to a deficit of chromosomes in the embryo.
  • Problems with the Embryo: A pregnancy can fail in cases where there is no embryo developing in the sac (also known as a blighted ovum) or when the embryo is present but its heart has stopped beating (this is known as a missed miscarriage).
  • Ectopic Pregnancy: When the embryo implants in the fallopian tubes and not the uterus, it is known as an ectopic pregnancy. This is a dangerous situation and if not treated immediately by surgery and medication may even prove fatal.
  • Other Health Problems: Existing health problems such as infections of the fetus or placenta and hormonal problems of the mother can affect a pregnancy and can lead to a miscarriage. Diseases such as lupus, diabetes, and congenital abnormalities of the reproductive system can lead to a miscarriage as well. Hormonal factors include conditions such as PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), thyroid problems and Cushing's disease.
  • Environmental factors and lifestyle habits such as radiation, toxic chemicals, smoking, drugs, and excessive caffeine may increase the chances of a miscarriage.
  • Surgical procedures such as amniocentesis and uterine procedures may increase the chance of a miscarriage.
The risk factors of miscarriage include:

  • Age: Pregnant women above the age of 35 are more likely to miscarry than younger women. This risk more than doubles if the woman is over 45.
  • Previous Miscarriages: Women who have had previous miscarriages are 25% more likely to miscarry again.
  • Smoking and Alcohol: Unhealthy lifestyle habits such as smoking and drinking can increase the risk of ectopic pregnancies, birth defects and miscarriages.
  • Caffeine: While there are some studies that indicate a link between the excessive use of caffeine and miscarriages, further research is still needed to prove this. However, it would be prudent to avoid too much caffeine when pregnant irrespective.
  • Obesity: Women who weigh more are more likely to miscarry as compared to women with normal Body Mass Indexes.

Frequently asked questions
Myra Parsons, Michele Simpson, Terri Ponton, Raspberry leaf and its effect on labour: Safety and efficacy, Australian College of Midwives Incorporated Journal, Volume 12, Issue 3, September 1999, Pages 20-25, ISSN 1031-170X, 10.1016/S1031-170X(99)80008-7.
Keywords: labour; pregnancy; raspberry leaf; safety