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The Truth About Miscarriage

Find out the causes, symptoms, and treatments of miscarriage.

By
Sanaz Majd, MD,

One of the most difficult and saddening visits I encounter are with my patients who’ve experienced a miscarriage.  I have found that no matter the situation, whether the pregnancy was planned or not, whether the patient was initially happy or unhappy at the news of the pregnancy, the miscarriage can be emotional, distressing, or even devastating for many women.  For some, it may bring a mixed bag of emotions, including relief. 

All of these emotions are normal.

Studies show that up to one third of all pregnancies end in an unfortunate miscarriage.  And 25% of all women have experienced one.  It’s such a common occurrence, and that’s why I’d like to spend today’s episode discussing this difficult topic from a medical standpoint.

Causes of Miscarriage

A miscarriage is defined as a pregnancy loss prior to 20 weeks of gestation.  And over 50% of all miscarriages are caused by chromosomal abnormalities in the fetus.  There are numerous abnormalities that can arise in the genes of a fetus, for instance, Down’s Syndrome.  However, babies with Down’s are able to survive the pregnancy.  But there are many other chromosome combinations that are NOT compatible with life, and the fetus is not able to fully form.  This causes a miscarriage.

Other less common causes include:

  • Maternal infections (such as syphilis or toxoplasmosis from handling kitty litter)

  • Maternal anatomic deformities (such as in congenital anomalies of the uterus or an incompetent cervix)

  • Maternal health problems (such as lupus, or uncontrolled thyroid disorder)

  • Exposure to toxins (such as illicit drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes)

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