Sunday, May 1, 2011

Age as a Risk Factor for Miscarriage

As defined by the National Institutes of Health, there are many factors that can lead to a miscarriage. Some of these include hormonal imbalance, smoking, drinking, drug use, and obesity, among others. About 15 to 20 percent of pregnancies may end up in miscarriage.

I had a miscarriage in my 11th week of pregnancy a few years ago and had to undergo a dilation and curettage. Though I was not traumatized by the experience, I did wonder how it could have happened. This baby was supposedly our second child, and I had no complications during my first pregnancy and delivery. My body weight was normal and I didn’t have any health problems. On top of that, I was a woman in her mid-20’s who didn’t drink or smoke.

I had just found out that the age of the woman has something to do with the possibility of miscarrying. I also wrote about these findings in my entry for The Wellness Today Blog. Related research explains that miscarriages can occur more frequently with older mothers. However, there is a critical step during the egg cell’s division wherein chromosomes fail to arrange properly.

In a recent study by Washington State University’s Dr. Patricia Hunt, it was found that the age of the mother can affect her egg cell’s rate of division, thereby adding to the risk factor for miscarriage. In summary, Dr. Hunt says that women in their 20s produce about 10 percent of eggs that have abnormal chromosomes.  For women in their 40s, this number increases to about 50 percent.

These findings were obtained using mouse egg cells manipulated to replicate the normal cell division of the human egg cell. The results of the study are to be published in the May 2011 issue of Current Biology.

So in some way I come to realize that a physically fit body does not always guarantee that a pregnancy will go smoothly. Then again, in life nothing goes as smoothly as planned, nor does life come with a guarantee.

This also made me think about some traditional beliefs that women in other countries associate with miscarriages. For instance, in my home, the Philippines, the elders said that taking pictures of the pregnant mom will result in a miscarriage. In China, moving the married couple’s bed within the bedroom can lead to a miscarriage. In addition to that, Chinese women who are in their early trimester should not work or even walk around!

I guess in a way, folk traditions use these superstitions as a means of safeguarding the mom-to-be’s health. It is possible that for those who don’t normally turn to science, these beliefs can explain why some women end up having a miscarriage, regardless of their health condition or age.

A couple of years after that miscarriage, we now have a happy and healthy second baby. Looking back, I don’t feel regretful about that experience, but I learned much from it. A part of me was telling myself that it probably wasn’t the right time back then. A part of me also understood that if I needed answers, there is always a medical source that can help explain it.

The Wellness Today
How Age Affects the Rate of Miscarriage
National Institutes of Health
Washington State University

No comments:

Post a Comment