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Understanding Miscarriage: Possible Causes

Miscarriage is common, but finding its cause may not be easy. If a cause can be found, it’s likely to be a problem with the baby or the structure of the uterus. Other factors cause miscarriage, but they are less common.

Problems with the Baby

Any of the following problems with the baby can cause a miscarriage:

  • There is a problem with the baby’s chromosomes (genes that carry the information needed for life).

  • The placenta or the umbilical cord may be damaged.

Problems with the Uterus or Cervix

Any of the following problems with the uterus or cervix can cause a miscarriage:

  • The uterus may be divided (have a septum), or have fibroids, adhesions, or endometriosis.

  • The lining of the uterus may be too thin for the fertilized egg to implant.

  • The cervix may be too weak to support the weight of a pregnancy.

Other Factors

Any of the following problems can cause a miscarriage:

  • A serious illness, such as mumps or German measles.

  • A bad injury, perhaps during a car accident.

  • Exposure to toxins or radiation.

What Does Not Cause Miscarriage

Plenty of myths and “old wives’ tales” try to explain the cause of miscarriage. But they are fiction—not fact. None of the following activities causes miscarriage:

  • Carrying groceries

  • Lifting a small child

  • Wearing high heels

  • Coloring your hair

  • Having sex

  • Vacuuming

  • Working outside the home

  • Being a vegetarian

  • Eating spicy foods

  • Having a Pap smear

  • Riding a horse or a bicycle

  • Wishing away or denying a pregnancy

 

 

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