Sep 23

The Causes of Recurrent Miscarriage: What Women Should Know

Causes of Recurrent Miscarriage - San Antonio, TX

Posted on September 23, 2016 — by Joseph E. Martin, M.D., FACOG

A woman worried on her couchOur San Antonio fertility specialists are committed to the health and well being of our patients. This is why we always perform a comprehensive health and fertility evaluation, assessing various infertility issues that may affect men and women.

These kinds of evaluations are especially important for women who run a risk of miscarriage. We'd like to consider some of the causes of pregnancy loss and then offer a quick overview of a fertility treatment to consider when there's a heightened risk of miscarriage.

What Is Recurrent Pregnancy Loss?

Also known as a miscarriage, recurrent pregnancy refers to the sudden and spontaneous loss of a child before the 20th week of pregnancy. The majority of miscarriages will occur before the 12th week of pregnancy.

Many times the pregnancy loss occurs when a fetus has issues with development.

How Common Is Miscarriage?

While not necessarily common, miscarriage is certainly an issue in a number of pregnancies every year. It's estimated that 10 percent to 20 percent of pregnancies end in a known miscarriage.

Keep in mind that these numbers may actually be higher than 10-20 percent. Many miscarriages will occur so early in a woman's pregnancy that she won't have even realized she was pregnant.

Common Causes of Recurrent Pregnancy Loss

Some of the most common causes of pregnancy loss include the following:

  • Problems with Chromosomes – It's been estimated that half of all miscarriages are the result of poor genes or chromosomes that affect fetal development. This is from embryonic development, not issues inherited from parents per se. These issues include no formation of an embryo after fertilization (blighted ovum), sudden fetal demise despite embryo development, molar pregnancy (both sets of chromosomes are from the father).

  • Poor Health of the Mother – In certain cases, a mother's health can lead to problems with fetal development. These issues include diabetes, infections, thyroid disease, hormonal imbalances, and issues with the uterus.

Keep in mind that a combination of the above may result in pregnancy loss as well.

Risk Factors for Recurrent Pregnancy Loss

The following risk factors can make miscarriage more likely:

  • Advanced Age – Pregnancy loss is more likely in women 35 years old and older, particularly after age 40.

  • Previous Pregnancy Loss – If a previous pregnancy or more than one pregnancy ended in miscarriage, another pregnancy loss is more likely.

  • Issues with Weight/Body Mass – When someone is significantly overweight or underweight, health issues that can affect fetal health and maternal health are more likely.

  • Smoking, Alcohol, and Drug Use – Smoking, alcohol, and drugs during pregnancy can lead to serious fetal health problems. If these do not cause miscarriage, they can result in birth defects.

Options for Addressing Recurrent Pregnancy Loss

When it comes to dealing with pregnancy loss, the best option for treatment tends to involve ensuring the safe development of a fetus. It's common for people to turn to gestational carriers. These are surrogates who carry a fertilized embryo to term on the behalf of a mother. This will involve a combination of egg donation, in vitro fertilization (IVF), and embryo transfer.

We can discuss the surrogacy process in greater detail and offer resources on where to find healthy, willing carriers for your child.

Learn More About Fertility Treatments and Challenges

If you would like more information about miscarriage, pregnancy loss, and other issues that affect female fertility, be sure to contact our team of fertility specialists today. Our team will work with you to help ensure a successful and healthy pregnancy.

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