About Pregnancy Loss (Before 20 Weeks of Pregnancy)

Pregnancy loss is the unexpected loss of a fetus before the 20th week of pregnancy. It is sometimes called miscarriage, early pregnancy loss, mid-trimester pregnancy loss, fetal demise, or spontaneous abortion.

Health care providers use a different term—stillbirth—to describe the loss of a fetus after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Pregnancy loss may occur so early that a woman may not know she was pregnant.1

Researchers can only estimate the number of women who experience pregnancy loss, because some losses occur before a woman's pregnancy is confirmed by a health care provider or pregnancy test. But the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists estimates that early pregnancy loss is common, occurring in about 10% of confirmed pregnancies.2


  1. MedlinePlus. (2014). Miscarriage. Retrieved February 23, 2017, from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001488.htm
  2. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2015). Early pregnancy loss. Practice Bulletin No. 150. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 125, 1258–1267. Retrieved February 15, 2018, from http://www.acog.org/Resources-And-Publications/Practice-Bulletins/Committee-on-Practice-Bulletins-Gynecology/Early-Pregnancy-Loss 
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