Minimizing Miscarriage Risks
- Friday, 19 June 2009
The threat of miscarriage is often the greatest fear of a newly pregnant woman. Many women struggle with anxiety through the first trimester hoping and praying that their pregnancy will be viable. The worry is even more tangible for women who have experienced previous miscarriages. Although there is no definitive way to completely eliminate the risk of miscarriage, there are certain precautions women can take to minimize their risks.
Correct Thyroid Problems
The thyroid gland is very important in respect to pregnancy. This gland produces and secretes a number of hormones that are key to the proper growth and development of a fetus. If these hormones are not available in adequate supply, miscarriage can occur. A recent study published in the Indian Journal of Medical Sciences uncovered that women who experienced multiple miscarriages often had thyroid problems.1 According to another study published in the Journal of Medical Screening, pregnant women with hypothyroidism have a four times greater chance of having a miscarriage during the second trimester over women with healthy thyroid function.2
A simple thyroid test can be done with your health care provider to determine if your thyroid hormones are all in balance. Tests should check for TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone), T4 and T3 levels.
It is widely known that stress has damaging affects on the body. In terms of its connection to a terminated pregnancy, intense and prolonged stress can potentially lead to miscarriage due to the way the body manufactures hormones. The hormone progesterone is necessary to sustain a pregnancy. Inherent in its name, progesterone may be broken down into pro meaning “for” and gesterone representing “gestation”.
Women may not realize that progesterone is also a precursor to cortisol, the stress hormone. When a woman is experiencing excessive stress, her body is sacrificing the hormone progesterone in order to create the hormone cortisol. The body detects danger and instinctively reacts to abate it. The presence of the hormone cortisol will take priority over the pregnancy as it is a dangerous stressor that triggers certain physiological reactions that allow us to “fight or flight”.
Avoid Too Much Caffeine
Although some women may feel like they need several cups of coffee just to offset the extreme fatigue pregnancy can bring with it, some research has shown that consuming more than minimal amounts of the beverage is associated with increased miscarriage risk. A 2008 study conducted among pregnant members of the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program demonstrated that caffeine consumption above 200mg a day increased the risk of miscarriage. 3
It is recommended women limit their coffee, tea, and cola consumption during pregnancy to below 200mg daily. Many women choose to remove caffeine completely as they feel more comfortable eliminating any possible risk.
Regular alcohol consumption is implicated in increased miscarriage rates. A seven year Dutch study has shown that women who consumed more than five drinks a week had a 3.7 times greater chance of miscarriage than women who didn’t consume alcohol.4 When it comes to alcohol, women are encouraged to use their common sense during pregnancy and err on the side of caution.
Today, it is well known that smoking is dangerous for pregnant women as it can lead to chromosomal abnormalities that can precipitate miscarriage. Anyone who is considering pregnancy or is pregnant should stop smoking as soon as possible and avoid second hand smoke.
As hard as miscarriage is for the women who experience it, miscarriage usually occurs when then there is an abnormality in the chromosomes. Although the grief of a lost pregnancy cannot be erased, becoming aware of this fact helps some women come to terms with what happened.
1. Rao V Rama Chandra, Lakshmi A, Sadhnani M D. Prevalence of hypothyroidism in recurrent pregnancy loss in first trimester. Indian Journal of Medical Sciences, 2008; 62: 9
2. Allan WC, Haddow JE, Palomaki GE, Williams JR, Mitchell ML, Hermos RJ, et al. Maternal thyroid deficiency and pregnancy complications: Implications for population screening. J Med Screen, 2000; 7:127-30.
3. Xiaoping Weng, Roxana Odouli, and De-Kun Li. Maternal caffeine consumption during pregnancy and the risk of miscarriage: a prospective cohort study. The American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology. March 2008:198:3.
4. Ulrik Kesmodel, Kirsten Wisborg, Sjúrdur Fródi Olsen, Tine Brink Henriksen, and Niels Jørgen Secher. Moderate alcohol intake in pregnancy and the risk of spontaneous abortion. Alcohol and Alcoholism. 2002; 37: 87-92.