What percentage of miscarriages happen AFTER the first 5 weeks?

(April 19, 2010)

The term miscarriage is specifically used to describe the loss of an unborn baby in the first 20 weeks of gestation. Thereafter, if the baby dies within the womb, it is referred to as a stillbirth. If the baby is delivered before the 37th week of gestation, it is called a premature birth, even if the baby isn’t able to survive.

A miscarriage is an extremely trying period in the life of any expectant woman as she takes on the role of a mother right from the moment she realizes that she is pregnant. The awful truth is that a miscarriage is not an uncommon happening with almost 20 percent of known pregnancies ending in miscarriage and approximately 80 percent of these losses occurring within the first twelve weeks of pregnancy.

Most miscarriages occur before 6 weeks of gestation but a majority of these miscarriages go unnoticed as women do not realize that they are pregnant at such an early stage. These miscarriages are termed as chemical pregnancies or early pregnancy loss. They are often passed off as a change in the menstrual flow or as heavy menstrual bleeding. The risk of miscarriage begins to decline once the baby’s heartbeat is picked up at around 6 weeks of gestation. Miscarriages occurring after 6 weeks of gestation are known as clinical miscarriages or spontaneous abortions and contribute to 8 percent of the total percentage of miscarriages.  With the onset of the eleventh week of gestation, the chances of miscarriage further reduce as the baby passes the embryonic stage and begins to develop into a little being. The percentage of pregnancy losses from this stage up to birth is as low as 2 percent.

The main cause of miscarriage is the presence of genetic abnormalities in the developing embryo. This is usually caused by a difference in number of chromosomes contributed by either of the parents. However, in most cases, this is just a fluke incident that does not reoccur in subsequent pregnancies. Structural defects in the embryo also do not allow the baby to develop properly resulting in a miscarriage.  At times, the embryo is unable to embed itself in the uterine wall thus causing it to get washed away in the next menstrual flow. Women with a progesterone deficiency are also known to miscarry as progesterone prepares the uterus for implantation and low progesterone levels lead to the shedding of the uterine lining. Advanced maternal age, obesity, health concerns and unhealthy lifestyles also contribute to miscarriages.

Submitted by P T on April 19, 2010 at 05:17

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