SEVEN RISK FACTORS OF PREGNANCY THAT CAN LEAD TO A MISCARRIAGE

‘Sad’ isn’t even the word to describe the emotional turmoil that follows the loss of a pregnancy. Imagine having to find out you’re expecting and after a few weeks your sonographer blurts out “I’m sorry there’s no heartbeat”. Heartbreaking right? What exactly is a miscarriage?

A miscarriage, also known as a spontaneous abortion is the interruption of the normal development of a pregnancy before the 20th week of pregnancy. A miscarriage can occur in up to 1 in 4 detected pregnancies. A woman may miscarry even before she knows she’s pregnant. In an undetected pregnancy, the rate of miscarriage is closer to 1 in 3.

The most common symptom of a miscarriage is Vaginal bleeding. This may be coupled with or without pain. However, fever, expulsion of tissue from the vagina, weakness and backpain may be present

 

CAUSES OF MISCARRIAGE? 

The causes of miscarriage vary from person to person. Stated below are some of the common causes of miscarriages

  • Chromosomal abnormalities

Chromosomal abnormalities can go a long way in causing miscarriages as the mother’s immune system recognizes the gene of the baby as an anomaly and terminates it. For example, blighted ovum, molar pregnancy, intrauterine fetal demise

  • Uterine abnormalities 

Uterine abnormalities normally develop during the embryonic life of a female and they disrupt the normal development of the uterus. Examples include unicornate uterus, uterus didelphys, bicornate uterus, septate uterus, Asherman’s syndrome (Asherman’s syndrome, though not congenital also leads to miscarriages .It occurs in women who have had numerous D&C(DILATION AND CURETTAGE) procedures as it can lead to the formation of scars in the uterine cavity)

  • Medical conditions in the mother

This is attributed to hormonal imbalance (i.e. Abnormal hormone levels). Abnormal levels of progesterone, cortisol and estrogen are labelled as factors. Low levels of progesterone for instance is believed to cause miscarriages or to be a red light to show there’s going to be a miscarriage.it is believed that the body stops its production since it knows the pregnancy won’t be viable. Examples of such conditions include uncontrolled diabetes, thyroid diseases (both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism), PCOS (POLYCYSTIC OVARIAN SYNDROME) also known as Stein-Leventhal Syndrome

  • Infection

Infections during pregnancy should immediately be taken care of as it can affect the placenta, the developing baby and can cause birth abnormalities. Examples include Bacterial vaginosis, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, HIV, Herpes Simplex Virus, Syphilis, Toxoplasmosis, H1N1 influenza (SWINE FLU), Measles

  • Autoimmune Diseases

Autoimmune diseases cause the body to attack its own tissues thus gravely affecting fetal development. Some examples are antiphospholipid syndrome, SLE (SYSTEMIC LUPUS ERYTHEMATOSUS, Sjogren’s syndrome, Scleroderma, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Hemolytic Disease Of Newborn.

RISK FACTORS OF A PREGNANCY THAT CAN LEAD TO A MISCARRIAGE

Most miscarriages occur naturally but there are certain risk factors that can increase the occurrence of a miscarriage. These include:

  • Parental Age

Females older than 35 years as well as males older than 40 years are normally susceptible to miscarriages.

  • Substance abuse

Whatever is eaten, smoked or drank by the pregnant mother is passed on to their baby. With that being said, illicit drugs can particularly decrease the chance of survival of a fetus and be harmful to it.

  • Previous miscarriage

Some research has shown that having a previous miscarriage increases the likelihood of having another one. Progesterone may be used to prevent the re-occurrence of a miscarriage

  • Infertility

Tubal and cervical issues and ovulation can contribute to female infertility. Tubal issues can be caused by endometriosis, pelvic infections and pelvic abdominal surgery. Fibroids and polyps can also cause infertility. Ovulation plays a major role in fertility. Fertility drugs may be prescribed to stimulate ovulation in a woman with ovulatory issues. Haphazard usage of Birth Control Medications is also believed to cause miscarriages.

  • Being overweight or underweight

Obesity (Body Mass Index over 30kg/m2) is highly associated with complications of pregnancy thus losing weight can greatly help to reduce the risk of miscarriages

Being Underweight (Body Mass Index under 18.5kg/m2) can pose as a serious threat to pregnancy. Reaching a healthy weight can improve chances of a healthy pregnancy and childbirth.

  •  Alcohol abuse

Obviously, alcohol is a culprit for miscarriages. It can easily cross the placenta and the blood brain barrier (BBB) thus it reaches the Central Nervous System and  directly affects fetal development. It increases the risk of hypertension, fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), low birth weights, intellectual disabilities that can affect the baby throughout his/her whole life.

  •  Smoking

Smoking can have an adverse effect on implantation as it affects the lining of the uterus thus making it difficult for a fertilized egg to implant. It can also lead to slow fetal development or placental anomalies. This is due to the toxic chemicals found in cigarettes