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Thin women risk miscarriage

4th December 2006

09082006_childbirth1.jpgA new study has revealed that very underweight women are 72% more likely to miscarry in the first trimester of their pregnancy.

As the causes of miscarriage are not fully understood, the team at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine tasked themselves with trying to establish reasons why one in five women lose a baby in early pregnancy. Women with a body mass index (BMI) of under 18.5 before they became pregnant were classed as very underweight and therefore at a dangerous risk of miscarriage in the first trimester.

Although the reasons behind miscarriage are still vague, the researchers did establish some other common risk factors. The study found that single women were at an increased risk of miscarriage, as were women who had had a previous abortion (60% higher risk) and those who had had IVF (40% higher risk). Those who took more than a year to conceive were twice as likely to miscarry as women who had conceived within the first three months.

The researchers also revealed factors in maintaining a healthy pregnancy. Two-thirds of the women they studied who took vitamin supplements during early pregnancy reduced their risk of miscarriage by around 50%. The effect was most pronounced among those taking folic acid or iron and multivitamins containing these. Eating fresh fruit, vegetables and chocolate daily was also found to halve the odds of a miscarriage.

The study confirmed that morning sickness is a sign of a healthy pregnancy. Women who suffered from nausea and sickness in the first 12 weeks of their pregnancy were almost 70% less likely to miscarry, especially those with severe sickness.

Supposed risk factors such as alcohol consumption, smoking and caffeine intake were unconfirmed in the study.

It is estimated that miscarriage affects 250,000 women in the UK every year. A spokesperson for The Miscarriage Association said, "while we still don't have all the answers, these findings are going to help women who want to reduce their risk of losing a baby in pregnancy."

 

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