Common Causes for Miscarriage

No expecting mom wants to think about miscarriage. But with more than 3 million cases of it each year, it affects a lot of women. The concern of a miscarriage can be a common fear during the otherwise joyful life event of pregnancy. Part of the fear stems from feeling a lack of control regarding the causes of miscarriage. You may find yourself wading through endless amounts of information or asking question after question of your midwife or doctor, all with the goal of ensuring you have a healthy pregnancy for you and your little one. Causes of miscarriage fall into two categories: those you can influence and those you cannot. Developing a better understanding of the risks listed below may help to alleviate a bit of stress and give you options for maintaining a healthy pregnancy. Here are the most common causes for miscarriage and ways you can minimize the risk. 

Signs of a Miscarriage 

A miscarriage occurs prior to week 20 of pregnancy and is the physical loss of the fetus or baby by the body’s prompting. The majority—around 80 percent—happen during the first three months of the pregnancy. Multiple indicators signal a possible miscarriage, including bleeding, significant cramps, abdominal pain, fever, weakness and back pain. Please remember to contact your healthcare provider if you experience any of the miscarriage symptoms!

Abnormal Chromosomes 

Abnormal chromosomes are the cause of over 50 percent of miscarriages that occur during the first 13 weeks of pregnancy. Healthy chromosomes are an important foundation to a developing baby, so a problem with the quality or quantity of chromosomes may lead to the body taking steps to miscarry. This cause of miscarriage is not within your control, although increasing age can be associated with higher risk.

Medical Conditions

Whereas abnormal chromosomes are a risk related to the baby, medical conditions are those experienced by the mother. Taking special care of your health during pregnancy is important for multiple reasons, including the potential reduction of miscarriage risk. Medical conditions often contribute to miscarriages during the second trimester, 13-24 weeks, and include infections, mismanaged chronic diseases, autoimmune disorders, cervical or uterine issues, as well as other physiological problems. Talking with your healthcare provider about any general medical problems is an important part of a healthy pregnancy plan.


Health choices you make can affect both you and the chance of a miscarriage. Lifestyle causes of miscarriage include smoking, alcohol use and illegal substance use. The risk of smoking also extends to the father; a risk is present if the father smokes, even if you do not. Avoiding harmful substances during pregnancy offers multiple benefits—the healthier your lifestyle, the healthier potential for your pregnancy.  

Environmental Hazards 

Toxins or hazards that you are exposed to in any environments, such as the home, can increase the risk for a miscarriage. Environmental hazards come in various forms and from multiple sources—knowing the potential dangers offers you the opportunity to avoid these external risks. Common environmental hazards include exposure to lead found in older paint or water pipes, mercury and solvents that include varnish removers and degreasers, among others. Other potential toxins that may cause a miscarriage include pesticides and arsenic. Awareness of your environment is important!

Knowing what factors cause miscarriage certainly will not eliminate all of your concern, but limiting your exposure to lifestyle and environmental dangers offers the possibility for greater health and reduced risk of miscarriage. And one final thought: a miscarriage is a significant loss, one that often comes with misplaced blame. Although you can take steps to reduce certain causes of miscarriage, influencing outcomes is not the same as taking the blame for a process that can occur even when you take all of the “right” steps. So continue to seek out information and ask your questions while also taking care of you, mama.