A miscarriage is the spontaneous loss of a baby at any time up until the 24th week of pregnancy, after 24 weeks the loss is referred to as a stillbirth.
Miscarriages occur in about 10- 20% of confirmed pregnancies and can happen for a variety of reasons but for the majority the reason won’t be known.1
The five main causes of miscarriage are thought to be
- Genetic – the baby or placenta hadn’t developed as expected from the beginning
- Hormonal – low levels of the hormone progesterone
- Immune Disorders – usually the presence of antibodies, a protein found in the blood that is made by your immune system in response to foreign material.
- Infection – not usually minor infections but infections that are accompanied by extremely high temperatures.
- Anatomy of the Uterus and cervix – an abnormal shaped uterus (womb) may mean there is reduced room for the baby to develop to full term. Also weakening of the cervix (the neck of the of the womb)
There are a myriad of other reason that may influence the outcome
Investigations to determine reasons for miscarriage are usually only carried out after there have been 3 or more miscarriages.
The Miscarriage Association offer support and up to date advice about miscarriage and other early pregnancy losses.
1 The investigation and treatment of couples with recurrent miscarriage: Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists: Clinical Green Top Guidelines no.17, May 2003.