8 Most Common Causes of Miscarriage and Tips to Reduce Risk

by Ella

Miscarriage, also referred to as spontaneous abortion, is the loss of a pregnancy before 20 weeks gestation. It is a heartbreaking experience that affects countless families worldwide. While miscarriage is relatively common, with estimates suggesting that around 10-25% of recognized pregnancies end in miscarriage, the causes behind these losses can be complex and multifactorial. In this article, we will delve into the various factors associated with miscarriage and explore the scientific understanding surrounding its causes.


1. Chromosomal Abnormalities (Genetic Factors):

Chromosomal abnormalities are the most common cause of early miscarriages. Errors during the formation of gametes or early embryonic development can lead to an abnormal number of chromosomes, resulting in a nonviable pregnancy. The risk of chromosomal abnormalities increases with maternal age, particularly for pregnancies occurring after the age of 35.


2. Hormonal Imbalances:

Hormonal imbalances, such as insufficient progesterone production, can contribute to miscarriage. Progesterone plays a vital role in maintaining the uterine lining and supporting early pregnancy. Inadequate levels of this hormone can lead to inadequate uterine blood flow and result in miscarriage.


3. Maternal Health Conditions:

Certain underlying health conditions in the mother can increase the risk of miscarriage. Chronic diseases such as diabetes, thyroid disorders, autoimmune disorders, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and poorly controlled hypertension pose a higher risk. Additionally, maternal infections like rubella, cytomegalovirus (CMV), and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can also lead to miscarriage.


4. Uterine Abnormalities:

Structural abnormalities within the uterus can make it difficult for a pregnancy to implant and grow properly. Conditions like uterine fibroids, polyps, adenomyosis, and congenital malformations can increase the risk of miscarriage by affecting implantation or causing inadequate blood supply to the developing embryo.

5. Lifestyle Factors:

Certain lifestyle choices and habits can significantly impact pregnancy outcomes. Smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, substance abuse, obesity, and poor nutrition have been associated with an increased risk of miscarriage. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle before and during pregnancy greatly reduces the chances of experiencing a miscarriage.

6. Infections:

Infections, both systemic and localized, can trigger a miscarriage. Bacterial infections like listeriosis, urinary tract infections (UTIs), and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can pose a risk to pregnancy. Additionally, viral infections such as influenza, herpes simplex virus (HSV), cytomegalovirus (CMV), and Zika virus have been linked to an increased likelihood of miscarriage.

7. Environmental Factors:

Exposure to certain environmental factors and toxins can adversely affect pregnancy outcomes. High levels of radiation, exposure to certain chemicals, pesticides, heavy metals, and even prolonged heat exposure have been associated with an increased risk of miscarriage.

8. Immunological Factors:

Immunological factors involve the body’s immune response towards the fetus. In some cases, the immune system may mistakenly recognize the growing embryo as a foreign entity and mount an immune response leading to miscarriage. Conditions like antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) and other autoimmune disorders can disrupt the normal immunological balance required for a successful pregnancy.

Reducing the Risk of Miscarriage: Tips for Pregnant Women

Preconception Planning:

Prioritize preconception care: Seek medical advice before conceiving to address any underlying health conditions or concerns.

Optimize nutrition: Consume a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Consider incorporating prenatal vitamins, including folic acid, into your diet.

Lifestyle Factors:

Avoid tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs: These substances have been linked to an increased risk of miscarriage and should be avoided during pregnancy.

Limit caffeine intake: High caffeine consumption has been associated with an elevated risk of miscarriage. It is advisable to limit caffeine intake to 200mg per day or less.

Maintain a healthy weight: Obesity and being underweight have been linked to an increased risk of miscarriage. Strive to achieve a healthy weight before conception and maintain it throughout pregnancy.

Environmental Hazards:

Minimize exposure to chemicals: Certain chemicals found in cleaning products, pesticides, and solvents may pose a risk to pregnant women. Use non-toxic alternatives whenever possible and ensure proper ventilation in enclosed spaces.

Avoid high-risk occupations: If your occupation involves exposure to hazardous substances or radiation, consult with your healthcare provider about potential risks and necessary precautions.

Be cautious with medications: Consult your doctor or pharmacist before taking any medications, including over-the-counter drugs and supplements, to ensure they are safe during pregnancy.

Emotional Well-being:

Manage stress levels: Chronic stress may contribute to an increased risk of miscarriage. Practice relaxation techniques, engage in prenatal yoga or meditation, and seek support from loved ones or professionals when needed.

Address mental health concerns: Depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions can impact pregnancy outcomes. Speak with your healthcare provider if you are experiencing symptoms or have a history of mental health disorders.

Prenatal Care:

Attend regular prenatal check-ups: Regular visits to your healthcare provider are essential to monitor the progress of your pregnancy, address any concerns, and ensure appropriate care for both you and your baby.

Screen for genetic disorders: Genetic screening tests, such as non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT), can help identify certain chromosomal abnormalities that may increase the risk of miscarriage.

Exercise and Rest:

Engage in moderate exercise: Regular physical activity during pregnancy can promote overall well-being. Consult with your healthcare provider to determine suitable exercises for your individual circumstances.

Prioritize adequate rest: Fatigue can be common during pregnancy. Ensure you are getting enough sleep and listen to your body’s cues to avoid excessive physical or emotional strain.


Miscarriage is a complex issue influenced by numerous factors, including genetic abnormalities, hormonal imbalances, maternal health conditions, uterine abnormalities, lifestyle choices, infections, environmental factors, and immunological factors. Understanding these causes can help healthcare providers support couples better and improve prevention strategies. While advancements in medical science have shed light on the causes of miscarriage, further research is needed to enhance our understanding and develop targeted interventions to reduce the occurrence of this devastating event. For couples experiencing a miscarriage, it is essential to seek emotional support from healthcare professionals, support groups, and loved ones to help navigate through this challenging time.


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