A new study has revealed that the risk of miscarriage is likely to go up during summer. Published in the journal ‘Epidemiology’, the study noted that up to 30 per cent of pregnancies end in miscarriage, which is the loss of pregnancy before 20 weeks.
As many as half of the miscarriages are unexplained, but there are a few known risk factors for pregnancy losses, which can further lead to post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety, the study pointed out.
“We found that miscarriage risk, particularly risk of ‘early’ miscarriage before eight weeks of gestation, was highest in the summer. Any time you see the seasonal variation in an outcome, it can give you hints about the causes of that outcome,” said Dr Amelia Wesselink, the study lead and corresponding author. “We know that heat is associated with a higher risk of other pregnancy outcomes, such as preterm delivery, low birth weight, and stillbirth, in particular,” Wesselink added.
Explaining how heat could be associated with an increased risk of miscarriage, Dr Gandhali Deorukhkar, Consultant Gynaecologist, Wockhardt Hospital, said, “Extra heat during the summer months may lead to an increase in the core body temperature that can sometimes lead to miscarriages, but not always.”
The study investigated seasonal differences in miscarriage risk and found that pregnant women in North America had a 44 percent higher risk of an early miscarriage in the summer months –particularly in late August–than they did six months earlier in February. The risk of miscarriage during any week of pregnancy was 31 per cent higher in late August, compared to late February.
Geographically, the results showed that pregnant people in the South and Midwest, where summers are hottest, were more likely to experience this loss in late August and early September, respectively.
Explaining the major reasons that could result in a miscarriage, Dr Gandhali, said, “The problems with the genes or chromosomes can lead to a miscarriage. Most miscarriages occur because the fetus does not develop as expected. About 50 per cent of miscarriages are associated with extra or missing chromosomes.”
“Chromosome problems might lead to the blighted ovum, a condition when no embryo forms. Other reasons could be intrauterine fetal demise or molar pregnancy and partial molar pregnancy,” she added.
Also, maternal health conditions including uncontrolled diabetes, infections, hormonal problems, uterus or cervix problems, thyroid disease, smoking and excessive alcohol can lead to miscarriages.
According to Dr Gandhali, often, there’s nothing you can do to prevent a miscarriage. But the idea should always be to simply focus on taking good care of yourself and your baby, including:
- Seeking regular prenatal care
- Avoid known miscarriage risk factors — such as smoking, drinking alcohol, and illicit drug use.
- Limit caffeine intake. A recent study found that drinking more than two caffeinated beverages a day appeared to be associated with a higher risk of miscarriage.
- If you have a chronic condition, like hypertension or thyroid, work with your doctor to keep it under control.
- Take multivitamins daily.