What is Threatened miscarriage?
Miscarriage, also known as spontaneous abortion and pregnancy loss, is the natural death of an embryo or fetus before it is able to survive independently. Some use the cutoff of 20 weeks of gestation after which fetal death is known as a stillbirth. This may occur with or without pain. Tissue or clot like material may also come out the vagina. Sadness, anxiety, and guilt may also occur.
Risk factors for miscarriage include an older mother or father, previous miscarriage, exposure to tobacco smoke, obesity, diabetes, and drug or alcohol use, among others. In those under the age of 35 the risk is about 10% while it is about 45% in those over the age of 40. Risk begins to increase around the age of 30. About 80% of miscarriages occur in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy (the first trimester). The underlying mechanism in about of half of cases involves chromosomal abnormalities. Other conditions that can produce similar symptoms include an ectopic pregnancy and implantation bleeding. Diagnosis of a miscarriage may involve checking to see if the cervix is open or closed, testing blood levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), and an ultrasound.
Prevention is occasionally possible with good prenatal care. This may involve avoiding drugs and alcohol, infectious diseases, and radiation. Most women will complete the miscarriage without interventions. Occasionally the medication misoprostol or a procedure known as dilation and curettage (D&C) is required to remove the failed pregnancy. Women who are rhesus negative may require Rho(D) immune globulin. Pain medication and emotional support may be beneficial.
Miscarriage is the most common complication of early pregnancy. Among women who know they are pregnant, the miscarriage rate is roughly 10% to 20% while rates among all conceptions is around 30% to 50%. About 5% of women have two miscarriages in a row.
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