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Quarter of miscarriages "could be prevented" by lifestyle changes

A study of pregnancies in Denmark found that alcohol consumption was a factor in 1 in 10 miscarriages.

Image: ultrasound via Shutterstock

A QUARTER OF miscarriages could be prevented by ‘potentially modifiable’ lifestyle factors, a study has found.

It has also highlighted that one in ten miscarriages could be due to alcohol consumption during pregnancy.

The study looked at over 90,000 pregnancies between 1996 and 2002 recorded by the Danish National Birth Cohort, which included 3,177 miscarriages.

The results, published today in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, show five risk factors associated with an increased rate of miscarriage:

  • Age of 30 years or more at conception
  • Underweight or obese pre-pregnancy
  • Alcohol consumption during pregnancy
  • Lifting of more than 20 kilograms
  • Daily and night work during the antenatal period

Other factors included were amount of exercise, smoking, coffee consumption, and previously diagnosed genital diseases.

“Modifiable risk factors”

“Our results indicate that the risk of miscarriage is increased by multiple potentially modifiable risk factors and a considerable proportion of miscarriages may be preventable”, co-author of the study Sandra Feodar Nilsson, a PhD student at the University of Copenhagen and the Danish Department of Public Health said.

“We know that the modifiable aspects of the risk factors may be questioned as they often depend on other factors that are not necessarily easy to change.”

However, we think that information about increased chances of having a successful pregnancy at a relatively young age is an important perspective. If our findings are supported by future prospective cohort studies they may support a prevention strategy towards miscarriage.

In Denmark, miscarriage is defined as a “fetal death and/or expulsion before 22 completed weeks of gestation”.

The HSE’s definition covers 23 weeks.

Your stories: Ireland’s women share their experiences of pregnancy, birth and miscarriage >

Column: Every miscarriage is a loss, and I still think of my children that never got here >

BPA: Study ties chemical to possible miscarriage risk >

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About the author:

Nicky Ryan

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