Friday, August 17, 2007

Lower your miscarriage risk with new tests, treatments

When Kori Morrison had her first miscarriage, she and her husband, Tom, were upset but still hopeful. After all, she knew that 15 to 50 percent of all pregnancies end in miscarriage, and most of these women who've miscarried go on to have healthy babies. But in the next eight years, Morrison had four more miscarriages. Sadness and self-blame set in. "I wondered if I was eating the wrong things, if I was overstressed, or, worst of all, if my body just wasn't cut out for pregnancy," she says.

Morrison was eventually found to have a hormone imbalance: Low progesterone during pregnancy kept her uterus from nourishing the embryo. With treatment, she went on to have four children.

Although Morrison went through agony for years before discovering what was wrong, her story illustrates that there are ways to identify what causes miscarriages and what can be done to prevent them. Important to know because, while most women will go on to have a successful pregnancy, about 5 percent are likely to lose another baby. And the use of assisted reproductive technology such as in vitro fertilization (common among women 35-plus) seems to boost miscarriage risks even more.

1. Do a little detective work

When you're planning to get pregnant, your first move should be a careful prepregnancy checkup to reveal potential risk factors like diabetes-related problems, high blood pressure, polycstic ovary syndrome, fibroids, or thyroid abnormalities -- all of which are mostly treatable, says Mary Stephenson, M.D., professor of obstetrics and gynecology and director of the recurrent-pregnancy-loss program at the University of Chicago Medical Center.

Go over your medical history with your doctor, and also mention any medications, herbs, and supplements you are taking. You might learn something about potentially risky non-prescription meds such as ibuprofen or herbs such as ginkgo. Even taking a little time to discuss a family history of miscarriages with your doctor might uncover a correctable problem.

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