Miscarriage can leave a couple severely shaken as
the anticipation of having a baby suddenly turns to grief over a loss. Many feel
devastated and guilty even if the miscarriage occurs during the early weeks or
months of the pregnancy. However, while it's normal to blame some specific act
or situation, miscarriages are rarely triggered by factors under the partners'
Most miscarriages are caused by chromosomal
(genetic) abnormalities and other physical factors that are beyond your control.
There are, however, steps you can take to reduce the risk of losing a pregnancy.
Smoking increases the risk
of losing a genetically normal baby. One study showed that women who smoked
more than 14 cigarettes a day were about twice as likely to miscarry,
regardless of their age or use of alcoholic beverages. The risk of losing a
pregnancy increases with the number of cigarettes a woman smokes. On the
other hand, giving up smoking at any time during the pregnancy will benefit
the baby. Since passive smoke is also dangerous, it's wisest if no one in
your household smokes during the pregnancy.
Don't drink alcoholic beverages or much
Having an alcoholic drink twice weekly doubled the risk of
losing normal babies in one study; drinking alcohol every day tripled the
risk of such miscarriages. Similarly, consuming large amounts of
caffeine—more than 4 cups of coffee per day (or the equivalent in other
substances that contain caffeine) slightly increases the chance of
miscarriage. The risk appears to rise with the amount of caffeine consumed;
and doctors generally recommend limiting intake to one cup of coffee per
Avoid radiation and poisons.
to high levels of radiation or toxic substances increases the risk of
miscarriage. The dangers of various levels of radiation are discussed in the
chapter on “Strategies for a Healthy Pregnancy.” Arsenic, lead,
formaldehyde, benzene, and ethylene oxide can cause miscarriage. Make sure
you are not exposed to these substances at work or anywhere else while
pregnant or trying to conceive.
Prevent trauma to the abdomen.
participate in sports such a skiing that might involve serious falls. Stab
wounds or injuries from the steering wheel or seat belt in a car, especially
during the second trimester, sometimes cause miscarriage. See the nearby box
for the right way to wear a seat belt when you are visibly pregnant.
Check out all medications with your doctor.
Certain prescription and
over-the-counter drugs are associated with
fetal abnormalities and miscarriages. Consult your doctor before taking any
medication when you are pregnant or trying to conceive. Some drugs can
damage the fetus and cause miscarriage before you even know you are
Increase folic intake
Low levels of
plasma folate may be associated with an increased risk of early miscarriage,
according to a population-based study conducted by researchers at Sweden's
Karolinska Institute in cooperation with the U.S. National Institute of
Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), an arm of the National
Institutes of Health. The study, published in the Oct. 16 issue of the Journal
of the American Medical Association (288, 15:1867-73, 2002). According
Duane Alexander, M.D., director of NICHD. "Not only does
taking folic acid before conception prevent the devastating form of birth
defects known as neural tube defects, but it also appears to lower the risk
of early miscarriage." A healthy balanced diet has a strong role to
play in a healthy pregnancy.
Protection from Infectious
hazards are biological agents (usually viruses) that may infect the unborn
baby if the mother becomes infected during her pregnancy. Some infections
can pass through the placenta
to the baby while in the womb. In some cases hepatitis B, HIV/AIDS the baby
will experience the illness before the birth or carry it and experience it
after the birth (such as or herpes). A few viruses are capable of causing miscarriage, birth
defects or physical and mental delays in the baby (such as rubella,
cytomegalovirus or toxoplasmosis ). Women working in hospitals, emergency
services, prisons, childcare, schools and other care facilities, as well as
those working with animals, need to be aware of using gloves when handling
blood products and any other required protective clothing, depending on the
circumstances. In some cases, being temporarily reassigned to work in other
areas may be necessary.
When a woman is
pregnant, she has high levels of the hormone progesterone. Progesterone
relaxes and softens her muscles and ligaments (making her body more
flexible, especially her pelvis for giving birth), these changes make her
more prone to injury. Heavy lifting can contribute to back injury and
straining other areas of the body. Therefore, using lifting aids, or
avoiding heavy lifting altogether if possible, may be feasible alternatives.
Depending on your occupation, you may need to be moved from a standing job
to one that requires more sitting (or be provided with a stool if working
behind a counter).
Avoid excessive, regular physical
vibrations or shocks
during pregnancy if possible, as should exposure
to continuous, excessively loud noise. Flying in un-pressurised planes and
scuba diving can reduce oxygen levels and should be avoided because of an
increased risk of miscarriage, and premature birth.
Avoid excessive temperature variation
Working in hot conditions can contribute to a pregnant woman fainting. Heat
that raises the woman's body temperature above 38.5o Celsius (or
101.3o Fahrenheit) for several hours during the first 12 weeks of
pregnancy has the potential to cause birth defects in the unborn baby. A
prolonged, raised temperature from about 12 weeks of pregnancy until the
birth may distress the baby or cause premature labour. Avoiding excessively
hot conditions is advisable during pregnancy.
The majority of miscarriages cannot be
prevented because they are caused by severe genetic problems determined at
conception. Some doctors advise women who have a threatened miscarriage to rest
in bed for a day and avoid sex for a few weeks after the bleeding stops. If
miscarriage was caused by a hormonal imbalance (luteal phase defect), this can
be treated with a hormone called progesterone to help prevent subsequent
miscarriages. If structural problems have led to repeated miscarriage, there are
some possible procedures to treat these problems.
Above is only a general overview, your doctor
will be in the best position to advice you regarding protection against a
- WF Team
Dated 05 November 2011