Can lifestyle choices cause miscarriage?

The vast majority of miscarriages are not caused by anything you have or have not done. However, there are factors which that can increase the risk of miscarriage.

Some of these, such as your age, you can’t control, but some you can.

Poorly controlled health problems

Some conditions, such as diabetes, if not effectively controlled during pregnancy and pre-conception, can raise the risk of miscarriage.

Age

A woman of 30 has a 20 per cent chance of miscarriage, but a a woman of  42 has a 50 per cent chance of losing the baby.  This is because, as you age, the quality of your eggs diminishes.

Smoking, recreational drugs and alcohol

Smoking, using recreational drugs or drinking too much alcohol can have an impact, so it is best to avoid them to maximise your chances of a healthy pregnancy.

Other medications

Seek advice from a doctor or pharmacist before taking any medications, including over the counter medications.

Food and drink

  • Unpasteurised dairy products such as  blue cheese, raw or under-cooked meats and eggs can all cause particular types of food poisoning which can be harmful in pregnancy. Read more about foods to avoid.
  • Drinking too much caffeine is also thought to increase your risk of miscarriage
  • Eating a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables may lower the risk.
  • Not being a healthy weight
  • Women who are very underweight or  very overweight do suffer an increased risk of miscarriage.  Obesity has been linked to a higher incidence of miscarriage and recurrent miscarriage.

There is clear evidence that your lifestyle can affect your chance of having a baby, so there are several things you can do to reduce  the risk of miscarriage and improve  the chances of a healthy pregnancy. 

You might want to consider:

  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Taking regular exercise
  • Taking folic acid (or a multivitamin specifically for pregnancy) whilst you are trying for a baby and during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy
  • Limiting your alcohol and caffeine intake (no alcohol at all is best, and caffeine at a minimum)
  • Not taking illegal drugs

All of these things we know  can increase your chances of a healthy pregnancy.

 

 

Sources

  1. N Maconochie, P Doyle, S Prior, R Simmons. Risk factors for first trimester miscarriage: results from a UK-population-based case-control study. BJOG, 2007; 114(2): 170-186
  2. 6 Boots C, Stephenson MD. Does obesity increase the risk of miscarriage in spontaneous conception: a systematic review. Semin Reprod Med. 2011; 29(6): 507-13.
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Last reviewed on August 1st, 2016. Next review date August 1st, 2019.

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