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.


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.




  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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Please note that these comments are monitored but not answered by Tommy’s. Please call your GP or maternity unit if you have concerns about your health or your baby’s health.
  • By Nadia Haque (not verified) on 19 Aug 2019 - 15:48

    I m in 1st trimester...but I don't have any symptoms of pregnancy.. .Is it normal?? And I have very light bleeding last few it ok In 1st trimester?

  • By Rachel Copeland (not verified) on 19 Aug 2019 - 01:55

    I want advice on miscarriage

  • By Allezey G (not verified) on 13 Aug 2019 - 22:35

    I’m 13weeks 4 days . I was about 104 pounds a couple weeks ago now 101 . I haven’t been taking any vitamins & I been getting cramps & back aches /barley scheduled an appointment for this Friday. Anything I should be worried about?

  • By Mpho Mildred (not verified) on 2 Aug 2019 - 10:31

    I'm 8weeks pregnant and sporting i went to a doctor and he told me the baby is still fine... I'm worried about this sporting

  • By Lesley (not verified) on 21 Jan 2019 - 13:50

    I recently had a miscarriage at 19wks +5, still waiting for result to come back to hopefully shed some light on what the cause could be.

    I've stopped bleeding and waiting for my normal period to come. However my partner and I would like to start trying again after my first period has come. Can I start taking folic acid now or should I wait for my 6 week checkup at the GP?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 28 Jan 2019 - 15:53

    So sorry to hear about your late miscarriage and we hope that you gain some help and answers from reading the storries on our site. There is no harm in starting with folic acid now. Folic acid is also available in many foods including green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, beans and pulses, eggs and some fortified bread and cereals. Best wishes to you x

  • By Ana Maria (not verified) on 17 Oct 2017 - 07:40

    I was 23 days and spot bleed for 2 days . When I went to the doctor he did a sonogram and said there was nothing in my womb and he recommended I abort. I did abort and now regret it. I should have waited. 23 days is very earlier. Don't go by doctors. You should always go but your gut feelings. I was a victim of a doctors mistake.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 17 Oct 2017 - 10:12

    Dear Ana Maria,

    Thank you for posting. I am sorry to hear that you felt pressured to make a decision and didn't wait longer to consider your options.

    We are always here for questions or if you need support.

    Warmest wishes
    Anna- Tommy's Midwife

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