Dr Phil Dyer talks about Miscarriages

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Monthly Health with Heartlands Hospital

My wife has had three miscarriages in a row. What’s causing it?

 

One in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage. Although this can be a very traumatic situation to deal with at the time, the majority of women do go on to have healthy subsequent pregnancies.

In many cases, the cause may never be known. A great deal of myths surrounds what causes a miscarriage – too much stress or not enough sleep for example, but for most women this is highly unlikely to be the case.

Once a woman has begun to suffer from a miscarriage, there is no treatment that can stop it. However, symptoms such as loss of blood during pregnancy may not necessarily indicate that a miscarriage is taking place – one study found that 50% of women seeking treatment for early bleeding went on to have normal pregnancies. A woman suffering from bleeding should go to see their GP immediately.

‘Recurrent miscarriage’ is the term applied to women who have three or more miscarriages consecutively – around one per cent of women experience this. Your wife should ask to be referred to a specialist. A number of conditions can increase the likelihood of miscarriage, such as Hughes syndrome, a condition which makes blood cells ‘sticky’ and more likely to clot. Diabetes or having an underactive thyroid can also be a potential cause of problems. A specialist can carry out tests to make sure that there are no medical conditions such as these which could be affecting the chances of your wife having a healthy pregnancy.

If any underlying conditions can be ruled out, the specialist should also investigate whether there are other factors, such as genetic problems, which could cause her to miscarry. Womb abnormalities, such as having a womb that is an unusual shape, can also be a cause of miscarriage. Special scans can determine whether this is the case.

You and your wife should seek further advice before trying for another baby, as these tests should be carried out before a woman becomes pregnant.

If your wife is successful in becoming pregnant, she should make sure that she follows a healthy diet, taking folic acid supplements during the early stages of pregnancy, and eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. It is particularly important for pregnant women to ensure that they have enough iron in their diet. Certain foods, such as blue-veined soft cheese, should be avoided in case they contain harmful bacteria.

Your GP can give you more advice or visit www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk for more information.

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