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Most of the time, a woman cannot do anything to prevent a miscarriage.
Getting preconception care and prenatal care before becoming pregnant and during pregnancy can help prevent some complications before they occur.
There are many different causes for miscarriage. In more than half of miscarriages, the developing fetus had a chromosomal abnormality that occurred randomly and was not inherited from the parents. These kinds of genetic errors are more likely as the mother gets older, especially after age 35.1
However, there are some health conditions that may contribute to pregnancy loss, too. These are high blood pressure, diabetes, thyroid disease, inherited blood clotting disorders, certain disorders of the immune system, uterine or cervical abnormalities, abnormal levels of hormones, obesity, and maternal or fetal infection.1
Pregnant women who use illicit drugs,2 smoke,3 drink alcohol,4 or have more than 200 milligrams of caffeine every day (about the amount in a 12-ounce cup of coffee)5 may increase their risk of miscarriage. The consumption of less than 200 milligrams of caffeine per day does not seem to be related to risk of miscarriage or preterm birth.
Additionally, pregnant women who use illicit drugs, smoke, or drink alcohol increase their risk of stillbirth.2,3,4 The risk of stillbirth is increased in women who are obese.6 Women who are obese should discuss losing weight with their health care provider before attempting to conceive.
It is typically safe for a woman to conceive after one normal menstrual cycle has occurred following a pregnancy loss. However, it is best to wait until she is physically and emotionally ready to become pregnant again and until any tests recommended by a health care provider to determine the cause of the miscarriage have been completed.7
Miscarriage is typically a one-time occurrence. However, roughly 1% of women experience more than one miscarriage in a row, or repeated miscarriages. In some cases, an underlying problem causes repeated miscarriages. A health care provider may suggest a series of tests to determine, and treat if possible, the cause of repeated miscarriages.1,7 (See What is repeated miscarriage? for more information.)
For every 100 women who have a miscarriage, one of them will have more than one miscarriage in a row. This is called repeated, or recurrent, miscarriage. Although most miscarriages are caused by a random genetic mistake in the egg or sperm that isn't likely to happen again, repeated miscarriages can sometimes have an underlying cause.1,7
After about three repeated miscarriages, a woman's health care provider might suggest tests to try to find a cause. The provider will also ask detailed questions about the parents' medical histories. Potential causes of repeated miscarriage might include rearrangements in the parents' genetic material; structural problems, scarring, or fibroids in the uterus; or certain medical conditions in the mother. Some of these problems can be treated, which might improve the couple's chance of getting pregnant.1,7
However, in about half to three-quarters of women with repeated miscarriages, doctors won't be able to find out a reason.7
Even if there's no apparent cause, the woman is still likely to be able to get pregnant and deliver a baby in the future: Almost two of every three women with recurrent miscarriage go on to give birth without any special treatment.1,7
Preeclampsia is a potentially serious condition that occurs only in pregnancy when a pregnant woman develops high blood pressure (also called hypertension) and protein in the urine. Research shows that a history of preeclampsia is not associated with an increase in the risk of miscarriage.
Women diagnosed with preeclampsia during a previous pregnancy should work with their health care provider to get their blood pressure under control before becoming pregnant again.
Although preeclampsia is not associated with an increased risk of miscarriage, pregnancy complications as a result of high blood pressure include low birth weight, premature birth (before 37 weeks), and problems with the placenta.
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