Preventing miscarriage: How to reduce the risk of miscarriage

Preventing Miscarriage: How To Reduce The Risk Of Miscarriage

With anywhere between 40-75% of miscarriages attributed to chromosomal abnormalities, many miscarriages happen for a sound reason. However, a large number of pregnancies could be saved if we try to understand better how to reduce the risk of miscarriage and take active steps in preventing miscarriage.

With so little research, it’s often unclear why miscarriages happen. Dr Gorgy, Fertility Consultant at The Fertility & Gynaecology Academy says: “It’s important to note that more often than not, miscarriages are nobody’s fault and up to one in four women will experience miscarriage in their lifetime. Miscarriage risk varies depending on your stage of pregnancy, but the highest risk of miscarriage is between four and six weeks. By week eight and nine, once the baby’s heart rate can be seen, the risk reduces to around 4-5%.”

What are the main causes of miscarriage?

  • Most pregnancies terminate early due to genetic dysfunction. There is no prevention for this. Simply, the foetus’s genetic makeup is not viable to grow a healthy baby.
  • Other pregnancies may be unsuccessful because of underlying health issues that may or may not have not been addressed prior to conception. These can include:- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) – fluctuating hormone levels, insulin resistance and high levels of Luteinising Hormone (LH) have all been linked to miscarriage.
    – Diabetes and high blood pressure.
    – Autoimmune disorders such as lupus and thyroid problems.
    – Other gynaecological issues such as fibroids and irregular periods.
    – Cervical weakness.
    – Infections.
    – Blood clotting disorders.
    – Sperm factors.
    – Immunology factors – for more information click here.

    If underlying health issues go unchecked, the conditions for a viable pregnancy deteriorate. If you’re thinking of having a baby, it’s a great idea to have health checks before trying so that any health problems (for either partner) can be treated effectively prior to conception. Any gynaecological factors, for example, can be uncovered/ruled out with a simple fertility MOT.

  • The risk of miscarriage rises with maternal age. In women over 45 more than half of pregnancies will end in miscarriage.

So, how do I reduce the risk of miscarriage?

In 2013, a nationwide study by doctors at The University of Copenhagen found that many miscarriages were preventable:

“We found that 25.2% of the miscarriages were preventable by modification of multiple risk factors to low risk levels. Maternal age at conception and alcohol consumption during pregnancy were the single most important risk factors”.

As noted above, maternal age is a huge factor for reducing your miscarriage risk. However, many older women have successful and healthy pregnancies. There are other factors that contribute to giving you the best possible chance of a successful pregnancy.

If you are considering getting pregnant, please take heed of the following advice to reduce your risk of miscarriage:

  • Understand that it is possible that your age will have some kind of impact on your pregnancy.
  • Ensure you (and your partner) have a fertility MOT to rule out any undetected issues that could hinder conception/pregnancy.
  • Don’t lift – the same study mentioned above found that daily lifting of more than 20kg daily increased the risk of miscarriage. This would impact females in heavy duty manual jobs.
  • Stay away from the drink – some suggest that a tipple in moderation is ok, but many studies show that alcohol does increase the risk of not only miscarriage, but also birth defects and fertility issues. Is it worth the risk if you are worried about having a healthy pregnancy and baby?
  • Maintain a good weight – although there is no concrete evidence linking obesity or being underweight to miscarriage, there is evidence that it is better to be a normal weight to reduce the risk of miscarriage. In addition, being overweight, in particular, can be linked to issues, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, which can cause problems during pregnancy.
  • Kick the smoking habit – direct or second-hand smoke is risky for anyone pregnant or contemplating pregnancy. Smoking and other toxins cause oxidative stress on the body. Cell damage caused by toxins creates an unfriendly environment within the body, causing disease and ill health.
  • Eat right – nourishing your body with antioxidants and keeping toxins at bay with your diet will ensure a better environment for your baby to grow. Give up the junk. Eat plenty of green vegetables and lots of fruit, together with lean protein and healthy grains. A poor diet without the right vitamins will increase your risk of miscarriage.
  • Keep a lid on stress – although sometimes unavoidable, trying to minimise stress will have big physical benefits, especially whilst carrying a baby. Stress has a negative impact on hormone levels and some studies have shown specific hormones related to stress are higher in women who deliver prematurely or have low weight babies.

Whilst many miscarriages happen due to factors outside of our control, there are several lifestyle factors that can reduce the risk of miscarriage. This is not an exercise in blaming women for their choices or creating a cycle of guilt and, of course, we all have weak moments and days. However, having the knowledge and information to make better choices, especially when trying for and carrying a baby, means we can make better decisions overall and help us to reduce our risk.

For more information about minimising your risk of miscarriage, or if you are experiencing recurrent miscarriage, our experts at The Fertility and Gynaecological Academy are here to help. If you have questions or would like to book in for a confidential consultation, call our London clinic on 020 7224 1880.