Miscarriage statistics

Statistics about early miscarriage, late miscarriage, recurrent miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy.

1 in 5 pregnancies end in miscarriage

A miscarriage is the loss of a pregnancy during the first 23 weeks. The main sign of a miscarriage is vaginal bleeding. This may be followed by cramping and pain in the lower abdomen.

Read more about miscarriage symptoms here.

An ectopic pregnancy is one that develops in the fallopian tubes instead of in the womb. Sometimes an ectopic pregnancy can also develop in the abdominal cavity. An ectopic pregnancy is a serious, life-threatening condition and will end in miscarriage.

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Things that affect your risk of miscarriage

  • Your age
  • Your partner’s age
  • Previous pregnancy history

General UK miscarriage statistics

Most miscarriages happen in the first 12 weeks, known as early pregnancy.

Many miscarriages in the first trimester are caused by chromosomal abnormalities (problems in development) in the baby but it is thought that around half have underlying causes.

  • An estimated 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage (1 in 5 if we only count women who realised/reported the miscarriage)
  • Around 11 in 1,000 pregnancies is ectopic
  • About 1 in 100 women in the UK experience recurrent miscarriages (three or more in a row)
  • More than 6 in 10 of women who have a recurrent miscarriage go on to have a successful pregnancy

Risk of miscarriage after 12 weeks (second trimester)

The risk of miscarriage greatly reduces in the second trimester. This is called late miscarriage.

  • Around 1-2 in 100 women have a miscarriage in the second trimester

Risk of miscarriage and age statistics

This graph is from a large study on age and miscarriage and shows the increase in baby loss with increased age of the mother (‘spontaneous abortion’ is the medical term for miscarriage).

  • In women of 20, around 15% pregnancies will end in miscarriage
  • In women of 25, around 16% pregnancies will end in miscarriage
  • In women of 30, around 18% pregnancies will end in miscarriage
  • In women of 35, around 22% pregnancies will end in miscarriage
  • In women of 40, around 38% pregnancies will end in miscarriage
  • In women of 45, around 70% pregnancies will end in miscarriage

graph showing risks of age and miscarriage

Nybo Andersen, A M et al. (2000) “Maternal age and fetal loss: population based register linkage study” BMJ (Clinical research ed.) vol. 320,7251 (2000): 1708-12.

Risk of miscarriage by week of pregnancy

Reliable research and statistics breaking down the risk of miscarriage by week of pregnancy don’t really exist.

Most women are very aware of the rate of miscarriage falling by the end of week 12 and this is supported by a lot of research, but there is another point earlier that the risk also goes down.

According to one study, once a pregnancy gets past 6/7 weeks and has a heartbeat, the risk of having a miscarriage drops to around 10%.

Many women will not be aware of this point and commonly the heartbeat is not checked until the first ultrasound scan around week11/12, but those who have had fertility treatment or are having early scans for other reasons will be able to date their pregnancy accurately and will know when they have passed this milestone.

Risk of recurrent miscarriage

Recurrent miscarriage is 3 or more miscarriages in a row.

  • After each miscarriage your risk of another increases
  • 1 in 100 women have a recurrent miscarriage
  • If the cause is unknown 6 out of 10 women who have had three miscarriages will go on to have a baby.
  • The cause is unknown in around half of cases of recurrent miscarriages
  • One research study of more than 300 women with a history of recurrent miscarriage showed that those who saw a heartbeat at 6 weeks of pregnancy had a 78% chance of the pregnancy continuing.  It also showed that seeing a heartbeat at 8 weeks increased the chance of a continuing pregnancy to 98% and at 10 weeks that went up to 99.4%.

Risk of miscarriage and IVF

Research suggests that assisted reproduction (in vitro fertilisation etc) has a small, if any, increased risk of miscarriage in itself as a treatment. The usual risks of age, father's age and previous pregnancy history apply.

Why miscarriage happens

We have information on the known causes of early, late and recurrent miscarriage here.

But too often health professionals are not able to tell women why they have had a miscarriage. This area of research is underfunded, with many taking an unhelpful (and unique to pregnancy) approach of ‘It was not meant to be’.

Research into why miscarriage happens is the only way we can save lives and prevent future loss. In 2016, Tommy’s opened the UK’s first national centre dedicated to miscarriage research.

Join us for change

Together we can make a difference. We need everyone's help to change the statistics and find out why miscarriages happen. You can sign up today to support Tommy's work.

Miscarriage causes untold pain to families

Leanne had three miscarriages

“I found myself in a very dark place. I had chosen to keep my losses a secret from everyone. I started to make excuses not to go to family events... I put my friendships on the line by not contacting anyone. In a cruel way my miscarriages started to rule my life.”

Read Leanne's story here.

Tommy's has more information and support for those who have had a miscarriage here

Media requests about miscarriage

We have clinicians, scientists, researchers and case studies available to speak about miscarriage for press and media. If you are interested in speaking to a clinician from the Tommy's miscarriage research centre, contact Hannah Blake, telephone: 07730 039361 or email [email protected]

Sources

[i] NICE (2012) Ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage: diagnosis and initial management Clinical guideline 154 Published: 12 December 2012 https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg154/resources/ectopic-pregnancy-and-m...

[ii] NICE (2012) Ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage: diagnosis and initial management Clinical guideline 154 Published: 12 December 2012 https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg154/resources/ectopic-pregnancy-and-m...

[iii] RCOG.(2011) The investigation and treatment of couples with recurrent first-trimester and second-trimester miscarriage. Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Green-top guideline, 17. London: RCOG press. 

[iv] Nybo Andersen, A M et al. (2000) “Maternal age and fetal loss: population based register linkage study” BMJ (Clinical research ed.) vol. 320,7251 (2000): 1708-12.

[v] ONS (2017) Births in England and Wales 2017, Office of National Statistics, London, England, https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarri...

[vi] Tong S1, Kaur A, Walker SP, Bryant V, Onwude JL, Permezel M.  Miscarriage risk for asymptomatic women after a normal first-trimester prenatal visit. Obstet Gynecol. 2008 Mar;111(3):710-4. doi: 10.1097/AOG.0b013e318163747c.

[vii] RCOG.(2011) The investigation and treatment of couples with recurrent first-trimester and second-trimester miscarriage. Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Green-top guideline, 17. London: RCOG press. 

[viii] Duckitt K, Qureshi A (2011) Recurrent miscarriage. BMJ Clinical Evidence. 

[ix] RCOG (2012) Recurrent and late miscarriage: tests and treatment of couples: information for you. Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.London: RCOG press. 

[x] ACOG (2012) Evaluation and treatment of recurrent pregnancy loss: a committee opinion. The Practice Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, American Society for Reproductive Medicine, Birmingham, Alabama. November 2012 Volume 98, Issue 5, Pages 1103–1111 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fertnstert.2012.06.048

[xi] S.A.Brigham, C.Conlon and R.G.Farquharson1 (1999) A longitudinal study of pregnancy outcome following idiopathic recurrent miscarriage. Human Reproduction vol.14 no.11 pp.2868-2871

[xii] Schieve, Laura A. PhD; Tatham, Lilith DVM et al (2003) Spontaneous Abortion Among Pregnancies Conceived Using Assisted Reproductive Technology in the United States. Obstetrics & Gynecology: May 2003 - Volume 101 - Issue 5 - p 959–967

[xiii] Wang JX1, Norman RJ et al (2004) Incidence of spontaneous abortion among pregnancies produced by assisted reproductive technology. Hum Reprod. 2004 Feb;19(2):272-7.

[vi] Jansen RP (1982) Spontaneous abortion incidence in the treatment of infertility. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1982 Jun 15;143(4):451-73.

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