Risk Factors of a Miscarriage

Also known as a spontaneous abortion, a miscarriage is defined as the sudden loss of a fetus during the early stages of pregnancy–usually before the 20th week. According to the American Pregnancy Association, roughly 10% to 25% of clinically confirmed pregnancies will end in miscarriage.

The causes of miscarriage are often completely out of the mother’s hands. Miscarriages are usually due to abnormalities in the genes or chromosomes, but sometimes the cause is unknown.

Risk Factors

Most miscarriages are the result of natural, unpreventable causes. However, there are particular factors that may increase your risk for having a miscarriage. These include:

  • Age: Women who are younger than 35 have the lowest risk of miscarriage, at about 15%. However, as you get older, your risk of miscarriage increases. At age 35, your risk increases to 20%, and at age 40 the risk is roughly 40%. After age 45, your risk increases to nearly 80%. The age of the father might also play a role, since there are a few studies that indicate women who become pregnant by older guys are going to be in a slightly higher risk of miscarriage than usual.
  • Weight: Being underweight or overweight has been associated with an increased chance of miscarriage.
  • Chronic conditions: There are a couple of situations where the health of the mother may add to the threat of miscarriage. Some examples of health conditions that could increase your risk include uncontrolled diabetes, infections, hormonal problems, thyroid disorder, and uterus or cervix issues.
  • Smoking, alcohol, or drug use: If you smoke during your pregnancy, you’ll get a greater risk than women who are nonsmokers. Furthermore, if you drink alcohol heavily or use drugs, your risk of miscarriage are also significantly increased.
  • Past miscarriages: when you have experienced two or more consecutive miscarriages, you’ll be at a slightly greater chance of having another miscarriage. This is called recurrent miscarriages.
  • Invasive prenatal tests: there are a number of prenatal tests that take a small risk of miscarriage. Some examples include chorionic villus sampling and amniocentesis.
  • Uterine or cervical problems: If you have any abnormalities or feeble cervical tissue, this may also increase your risk of miscarriage.


The majority of the time, there’s very little you can do to prevent a miscarriage from occurring. There are a few risk factors which are out of your control, such as age, chronic conditions, or uterine and cervical issues. But, there are some risk factors which you can control, like keeping yourself healthy and avoiding alcohol and smoking. Should you have any chronic conditions that increase your risk, you can work with your physician to keep the condition in check and decrease your risk as much as you can.

Open communication with your doctor is the most important thing you can do if you’re pregnant to prevent any issues or complications from happening. 


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