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Genetic and environmental causes of miscarriage

A miscarriage is one of the most emotionally traumatising experiences that a parent can go through. Sadly, miscarriages are a more common occurrence than we think. If you have suffered a miscarriage, you are probably eager to find out what could have caused it.

Our understanding about miscarriage is still limited but we do know that the causes of miscarriage are multifactorial. Both genetic and environmental factors come into play. While you can change your environment, not all genetic causes can be corrected with treatment or surgery.

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Genetic causes of miscarriage

    • Age: Mothers over the age of 35 run a slightly higher risk of miscarriage than younger women.
    • Chromosomal issues: These little blocks of DNA contain detailed instructions on how the cells should develop. A healthy baby will have 46 chromosomes – 23 from the mother, and 23 from the father. However, things can go wrong during conception and it is believed that chromosomal abnormalities is one of the biggest causes of miscarriage.
    • Problems with the placenta: The placenta is the life link between you and your baby, so any problems with the placenta can also lead to a miscarriage.
    • Antibodies: These little “soldiers” are in charge of your body’s defense system. Sometimes too many of these antibodies can cause blood clots, which will cut off the blood supply to the foetus, resulting in miscarriage. This is also known as Hughes Syndrome.
    • Womb structure or a weakened cervix: Problems in the womb can contribute to later miscarriages as well. These may include scarred tissue, or non-cancerous growths. A weakened cervix might not be able to contract properly.
    • Hormonal imbalances: Prolactin is a hormone which helps to prepare your breasts to develop milk, but high levels of this hormone can contribute to miscarriage.
    • Endocrine disorders. If the mother has uncontrolled diabetes or thyroid problems, she might risk miscarriage too.

High blood pressure, lupus and kidney disorders can also contribute to a miscarriage.

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causes of miscarriage

For many woman, the causes of miscarriage are unavoidable and linked to genetics.

Other causes of miscarriage

Find out about other contributing factors to miscarriage on the next page…

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