Miscarriage

November 12, 2012

Miscarriage

Also known as spontaneous abortion, miscarriage is the involuntary loss of fetus before the 20th week of pregnancy. The condition refers to a naturally occurring event, and does not include medical or surgical abortions.

Causes

Chromosomal problems and genetic disorders prevent the healthy growth and development of the baby in the mother’s womb. Although these problems may not be related to the genes of the parents, many women lose pregnancy due to these alterations. Other causes of pregnancy loss may include:

  • Exposure to toxins, drugs, nicotine or alcohol

  • Hormonal imbalances in the mother’s body

  • Certain bacterial and viral infections

  • Obesity

  • Anatomical defects in the mother’s reproductive organs

  • Immune system disorders

  • Serious systemic diseases such as cancer or diabetes

Prevalence

Almost 50 percent of fertilized eggs in a woman’s body undergo spontaneous abortion, even before she realizes that she is pregnant. Almost 15 to 20 percent of women lose pregnancy during the first seven weeks. The rate of miscarriage lowers significantly once the baby’s heart beat becomes traceable. The risk of miscarriage also increases with age. It is considerably higher in women between the ages of 35 to 40 years, and increases further after the age of 40.

Symptoms

Many women, who lose pregnancy, are unaware until their doctor informs them in the next visit. Others may experience lower back pain, or dull, sharp abdominal pain. Some women may pass tissue or clot-like material from their vagina, while other may have abdominal bleeding

Diagnosis

Dilation or thinning of the cervix during the vaginal exam is a major indication of a miscarriage. If you lose pregnancy, your baby’s will not be detectable during an ultrasound. Your vaginal ultrasound may also indicate poor physical development of the fetus. Your doctor may also perform:

  • Blood Typing to check for the Rh compatibility of your baby

  • A complete blood count may give an indication of the blood lost during the suspected miscarriage

  • The human gonadotropin, or HCG test to confirm the pregnancy again

  • A white blood cell differential test may be used to check for the presence of asymptomatic infections.

Treatment

When you lose pregnancy, your doctor will check to see if all the tissue has passed out of your body. You will be kept under observation for 2 weeks, and surgical procedure known as D and C may be performed to remove the remaining fetal tissue from your body. You should regain your normal menstrual cycle within 4 to 6 weeks. You may become pregnant right away but most doctors would recommend you to wait for at least one cycle before trying to conceive.

Complications

It is important for all the fetal tissue in your body to come out after you lose pregnancy. Any remaining tissues can lead to infections characterized by fever, vaginal bleeding, cramping and vaginal discharge. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience these symptoms.

Women may also experience depression and sadness. Talk to your partner and family about it. Consult a psychologist if you experience serious depression or get suicidal thoughts.

Prevention

Comprehensive prenatal care and use of prenatal vitamins may lower your chances of miscarriage. Pregnant women who lose pregnancy often may seek infertility treatments.

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