Merck Manual

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Recurrent Miscarriage

(Recurrent Pregnancy Loss, Repeated Miscarriage)

By

Antonette T. Dulay

, MD, Main Line Health System

Medically Reviewed Oct 2022
VIEW PROFESSIONAL VERSION

Recurrent (repeated) miscarriages is having had at least 2 miscarriages.

  • Recurrent miscarriages may be caused by problems in the mother, father, fetus, or placenta.

  • Chromosome abnormalities may cause about half of recurrent miscarriages.

Causes of Recurrent Miscarriage

The problem causing repeated miscarriages may be in the mother, father, fetus, or placenta.

In the mother, common problems that cause repeated miscarriages include

If women have a disorder that causes blood to clot too easily (such as antiphospholipid syndrome Antiphospholipid Syndrome Autoimmune disorders, including Graves disease, are more common among women, particularly pregnant women. The abnormal antibodies produced in autoimmune disorders can cross the placenta and... read more ), they may have repeated miscarriages that occur after 10 weeks of pregnancy, The reason may be blood clots that damage the placenta and thus decrease the flow of nutrients from the mother to the fetus.

A miscarriage is more likely if women have had a miscarriage in a previous pregnancy. The more miscarriages a woman has had, the higher the risk of having another miscarriage. The risk of having another miscarriage also depends on what the cause is, but overall, women who have had several miscarriages have about a 1 in 4 chance of having a miscarriage in a later pregnancy.

Chromosome disorders in the father may also cause repeated miscarriages. Having certain abnormalities in semen increases the risk of miscarriage. Whether older age (over 35) of the father increases risk of a miscarriage is unclear.

In the fetus, common causes include

  • Chromosome or genetic abnormalities

  • Structural abnormalities (birth defects)

The cause of repeated miscarriages cannot be determined in up to half of women.

Diagnosis of Recurrent Miscarriage

  • A doctor's evaluation

  • Tests to identify the cause

If women have had several miscarriages, they may want to see a doctor before they try to become pregnant again. The doctor can check them for genetic or structural abnormalities and for other disorders that increase the risk of a miscarriage. For example, doctors may do the following:

The diagnosis of repeated miscarriages is based on having had 2 or 3 miscarriages.

Treatment of Recurrent Miscarriage

  • Treatment of the cause if possible

Some causes of repeated miscarriages can be treated, making a successful pregnancy possible.

NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: VIEW PROFESSIONAL VERSION
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