While you can’t prevent all miscarriage cases, you can still take precautions to maintain a healthy pregnancy which will lower the risks of miscarriage. First, we have to know the common causes of miscarriage. It’s difficult to determine the exact cause in most cases; however, specialists can find factors that increase the risk of miscarriage which differ from one trimester to another.
Causes of miscarriage in the first trimester:
Almost 80% of miscarriages occur in the period between weeks 1-13 of pregnancy. The common causes include:
- Genetic abnormalities: Most miscarriages in the first trimester occur due to fetal chromosomal problems. If your body detects a fetal chromosome that is damaged or missing, it will terminate the pregnancy.
- Blood clots: There is a rare autoimmune condition, called Hughes syndrome, which affects the way blood cells bind together, resulting in blood clots that end with a miscarriage. Although this syndrome affects three to five as many women as men, fortunately, it can be treated with medication.
- Ectopic pregnancy: It’s a rare type of pregnancy that occurs in 1 out of every 50 pregnancies. It happens when the fetus begins developing outside of the womb. An ectopic pregnancy is risky for the mother’s health and her fertility on the long run. It requires immediate removal of the embryo.
Causes of miscarriage in the second trimester:
Although miscarriages in the period between weeks 13-24 of pregnancy are less common, they still occur. Causes are always related to external health conditions or the mother’s health state as the following:
- Uterus and cervix infections
- Chronic conditions as diabetes and high blood pressure
- Untreated thyroid conditions whether hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid glands) or hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid glands)
- Autoimmune conditions, especially Lupus, can lead to a miscarriage. Lupus is a chronic autoimmune condition in which your body’s own immune system causes inflammation and breakdown of its own cells
- Fibroids: Benign tumors that grow inside or on the outer surface of the womb
Causes of miscarriage in the third trimester:
In the third trimester, a miscarriage is called a stillbirth. The causes include:
- Problems with the placenta: Separation of the placenta from the womb, infection in the placenta, or insufficient blood flow to the placenta.
- Preeclampsia: High blood pressure occurs in five to eight of all pregnancies which can cut off the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the fetus. Preeclampsia can also progress to eclampsia, a very serious condition that can be fatal to the fetus and the mother.
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- Problems with the umbilical cord: If the cord is knotted or squeezed, it can cut off the flow of blood and oxygen to the fetus.
Tips to lower the risk of miscarriage:
- Take folic acid
- Avoid certain foods
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Avoid smoking, even second-hand smoking
- Manage chronic conditions
Take folic acid
There are certain birth defects that can lead to miscarriage. In order to help prevent these defects, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges all pregnant women to take 400 mcg of folic acid daily. In addition, a pregnant woman should include foods rich in folate in her diet. Folate-rich foods are beans, peas, and dark green leafy vegetables.
Avoid certain foods
There are some foods that contain harmful bacteria like Salmonella and Listeria which might lead to miscarriage. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pregnant women are up to 10 times more likely to get infected with Listeria. It’s passed to the baby causing miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, and other serious health problems. Symptoms of Salmonella are fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps. These foods include sushi, undercooked meat, processed meats, and raw eggs.
Maintain a healthy weight
Obesity increases the risk of miscarriage. In order to make sure your weight is in check, you should have a body mass index (BMI) of not more than 30. Maintain a healthy balanced diet that includes at least 5 portions of fruits and vegetables daily.
Avoid smoking, even second-hand one
A 2014 study reported that each cigarette smoked daily increased the relative risk of miscarriage by 1%. The study also reports that secondhand smoke increased the risk of miscarriage by 11%. Women who smoke are more likely to experience infertility, miscarriage, stillborn baby, or low-birth-weight infant.
Manage chronic conditions
Women who suffer from chronic conditions – like diabetes, hypertension, and auto-immune diseases – have to control these conditions with their medical advisors when planning pregnancy. Diabetes, in specific, can lead to fetal malformation, then pregnancy loss.
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Sources used in this article:
- Folic Acid Helps Prevent Serious Birth Defects of the Brain and Spine – Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
- Can You Prevent Miscarriage? – Healthline
- 11 Foods and Beverages to Avoid During Pregnancy – Healthline
- Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Miscarriage and Maternal Exposure to Tobacco Smoke During Pregnancy – US National Library of Medicine
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