While it's somewhat a debated topic, every woman worries about her chances of miscarriage when she's pregnant. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) says that the most common type of pregnancy loss in the United States is miscarriage. According to studies, somewhere between 10 to 25 percent of all pregnancies that are clinically recognized end in miscarriage.
What are the Chances?
Typically, women within the standard childbearing years of 18 to 35 years of age experience a 10 to 25 percent risk of having a pregnancy that ends in miscarriage. However, there are certain factors that can increase a woman's chances of miscarriage and decrease the likelihood of carrying a baby full term.
Statistics show that women who are 35 to 45 years old have a 20 to 35 percent chance of miscarriage. Those statistics go up to 50 percent when a woman reaches age 46 and older.
Causes of Miscarriage
Often, the cause of a woman's miscarriage is never determined. There are so many potential factors, it's hard to pinpoint the specific cause. However, there are certain causes that have been identified.
This is the most common cause during the first trimester. This simply means that something within the baby's chromosomes isn't the way it's supposed to be and made it impossible for the baby to further develop. The American Pregnancy Association indicates that many chromosomal abnormalities are the result of a faulty egg or sperm cell. Many abnormalities are because of an issue that occurred when the zygote completed the division process.
With so many different factors to consider during a pregnancy, these are only a few of the other possibilities:
- Lifestyle: Women who use drugs, smoke cigarettes, don't maintain a proper diet, consume excessive caffeine, or are exposed to toxic chemicals or radiation have higher risks of miscarriage.
- Maternal Trauma: The more stress and undue trauma a woman experiences while pregnant, the higher her chances for miscarriage will be.
- Improper implantation of the egg: If the egg fails to implant correctly into the uterine lining, an increased chance for miscarriage is present.
- Hormonal problems, maternal health problems, or infections: When a woman isn't healthy at the beginning of her pregnancy, her chances of miscarriage increase.
Studies indicate that a woman who has had one miscarriage has a 25 percent chance to have another one. However, when looking at the statistics, this is only a slight increase from a woman who has never had a miscarriage. Additionally, if the miscarriage was due to a chromosomal abnormality, this really doesn't have any effect on your chances for miscarriage the next time around. However, after three miscarriages, the chances of carrying a baby to full term do decrease to only 50 percent.
Ways to Decrease Chances
There aren't any surefire ways to prevent a miscarriage when you are pregnant. However, there are some things you can do to help decrease your chances of miscarriage by being healthy in the first place.
When your body is healthy, it provides a better atmosphere for your baby to grow and develop. In order to stay healthy (or become more healthy), you should have a regular exercise regimen as part of your daily or weekly routine. Eating well is another way to better your health. This will help you keep your weight within healthy limits, too. While life is pretty stressful, it helps your body maintain its health when you have ways to manage your stress effectively. Of course, steering clear of drugs, excessive alcohol, or smoking are common sense things to do when you're trying to maintain or improve your health. Women are also advised to take folic acid on a daily basis.
Of course, when you are pregnant, you should take steps to maintain the healthiest lifestyle possible, too. You should be careful with your tummy or abdomen area. This means not engaging in any sports or activities where a stray punch or ball might wind up getting you in the mid-section. Do not drink alcohol, smoke, or be around those smoking. Don't take over the counter medications (or any prescription medicines) without first asking your doctor about them. Limiting or eliminating caffeine from your diet is another good step to maintain your health. Of course, as always, you should avoid situations where you would be exposed to hazards such as x-rays, radiation, or infectious diseases.
Basically, each woman has her own set of chances or percentage of risk for having a miscarriage. Your overall health, your exposure to risky situations, and your genetic background all influence your chances of miscarriage.