Dr. Murray Feingold: Pregnancy harder after miscarriage
A miscarriage in the first three months of pregnancy, also called a spontaneous abortion, is not an unusual occurrence.
It has been estimated that approximately 50 percent of all conceptions miscarry. At times, the miscarriage occurs so early in the pregnancy, the woman is not aware that she was pregnant.
The majority of times, the cause of the miscarriage cannot be determined.
But there are known causes, such as anatomical problems involving the reproductive organs, hormonal abnormalities, infections and genetic issues.
A recent study was done to determine if a miscarriage affected the chances of a woman having future children. Two groups of women were studied. Those who did not have a first trimester miscarriage and those who did.
The researchers then followed these women for 10 years to determine the results of subsequent pregnancies.
Results showed that 85 percent of women who did not have miscarriages delivered live babies.
The percentage of live babies in the miscarriage group depended upon how many miscarriages they had. Seventy-four percent of women who had one miscarriage had a subsequent live birth. Sixty-seven percent of women who had two miscarriages and 58 percent of those who had three or more miscarriages had live births.
Therefore, the presence of miscarriages did play a role in a woman's chance of having a live baby.
Thus, it is important that these women undergo an evaluation to try to determine the cause of the miscarriage. If the cause is uncovered, frequently, something can be done to correct the problem.
A genetic evaluation is particularly important because a chromosomal or gene abnormality is a common cause of miscarriages. Approximately 50 percent of all first trimester miscarriages are due to some type of chromosomal abnormality.
Although less common, some medical disorders can also cause miscarriages. If a diagnosis is made and treatment started, the chances of a successful pregnancy significantly increase.
Maintaining good health improves a woman's chance of not having a miscarriage. If you have had two or more miscarriages, it is important that you undergo an evaluation to try to determine the cause.
Massachusetts-based Dr. Murray Feingold is the physician in chief of the National Birth Defects Center, medical editor of WBZ-TV and WBZ radio, and president of the Genesis Fund. The Genesis Fund is a nonprofit organization that funds the care of children born with birth defects, mental retardation and genetic diseases.