The loss of one’s unborn child spells a kind of pain that mothers cannot fully express. It is not just about an individual’s dashed hopes and expectations; it is also about losing a dearly loved individual yet unseen. While no words can rightly contain the extent of the grief such loss brings, there is a medical term that accurately describes the occurrence: spontaneous abortion or miscarriage.
What is a miscarriage?
Medical professionals call it a miscarriage when the mother loses an unborn child before the 20th week of her pregnancy. Medical statistics shows that nearly half of all pregnancies—both recognized and unrecognized, end in miscarriage. However, only 15% of such miscarriages are of recognized pregnancies.
When do miscarriages often occur?
Records show that a majority of miscarriages occur within the first three months of a mother’s pregnancy. Only 20% of miscarriages take place from the fourth month onwards. Doctors call such cases, late miscarriages.
How can a mother know whether she is already having a miscarriage? Common symptoms of a miscarriage include cramps, fever, abdominal pain and bleeding (progressing from light to heavy bleeding). Pregnant mothers should immediately contact their obstetricians as soon as they observe these symptoms. It is up to the obstetrician’s judgment whether they will ask the mother to go to their clinic or the emergency room.
What though, are the causes of miscarriage?
Medical studies have suggested several factors that eventually lead to spontaneous abortion. However, the specifics as to why such miscarriages occur remain vague as of the present. Outlined below are the factors that experts believe can cause mothers to suffer miscarriages.
- Genetic defect in the unborn
The majority of miscarriage cases during the first trimester of the pregnancy are often because of defective chromosomes causing the death of the unborn. As we already know, chromosomes contain genes that are responsible for the various physical and character traits of the unborn. Chromosomal problems often occur by chance and not because of a problem with either of the parents’ health.
Mothers who often come in contact with radiation or who suffer from severe malnutrition or any serious medical condition like cardiovascular, kidney, and thyroid disease are most prone to miscarriage. Untreated diabetes and immune system problems are also crucial factors that can adversely affect a pregnancy. Pregnant women who also lead a lifestyle of substance abuse including alcohol and cigarettes also increase their risks of miscarriage. Mothers who also take supplementation or medication without first consulting their doctors may also be at risk. For example, the acne drug Accutane is one of the causes of miscarriage.
Studies consistently show that childbearing at the relatively advanced age of 40 years or higher is riskier than childbearing at an early age of, say, 20 years. Such increased risk is due to the increase in the probability of chromosomal defects present in the unborn child.
- Selenium Deficiency
Some studies suggest that in rare cases, selenium deficiency is the cause for recurrent miscarriages. Experts thus recommend that pregnant women include selenium-rich food in their daily intake. For those who are deficient in selenium, particularly those who live in China and Russia where selenium soil content is poor, selenium supplementation may be advisable along with a healthy diet. Should you decide to take dietary supplementation, please speak with your obstetrician first.