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Autoimmune Disorders

Autoimmune problems occur when certain chemicals in the bloodstream attack cells and tissues inside the body. While we all produce antibodies to fight off infections, some of us also produce auto-antibodies, which attack a person's own tissues and may cause a variety of health problems from diabetes to hypothyroidism. Women whose blood contains these types of antibodies are at particularly high risk for miscarriage because the antibodies can cause blood clots to form in the placenta, shutting off blood supply to the fetus.

A blood test can measure antibody levels to determine if you have this disorder. Low doses of aspirin and a blood-thinning drug called heparin have been known to help 70 to 75 percent of women with this disorder deliver healthy babies.

Lifestyle Factors

While most miscarriages are caused by chromosomal abnormalities and other physical factors you cannot control, your lifestyle may also increase your risk of a first-trimester miscarriage. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists states that drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes and using illicit drugs during your pregnancy may all increase your risk. Get as healthy as you can before conceiving so that you'll be able to provide a healthy place for your baby to grow.

Below are a few steps you can take to minimize your risk of having a miscarriage.

  • Don't smoke - Smoking is known to increase the risk of losing a genetically healthy baby. One study showed that women who smoked more than 14 cigarettes a day were about twice as likely to miscarry. Secondhand smoke is also dangerous, so no one else should smoke around you while you are pregnant.

  • Stay away from alcohol - Studies show that having an alcoholic beverage twice a week doubled the risk of miscarriage, while drinking every day tripled the risk.

  • Don't drink a lot of caffeine - In large amounts (more than 4 cups of coffee per day), caffeine has been shown to slightly increase the chance of miscarriage. The more caffeine consumed, the higher the risk, so doctors generally recommend no more than one cup of coffee per day.

  • Avoid radiation and toxic substances - Various levels of radiation and toxic substances, such as arsenic, lead, formaldehyde, benzene and ethylene oxide, can cause miscarriage. Make sure you are not exposed to any of these at work or anywhere else.

  • Prevent trauma to the abdomen - Avoid contact sports or activities that may cause injury and don't participate in sports in which you could fall. Steering wheel and seatbelt injuries can also cause miscarriage if they are positioned incorrectly.

  • Check with your doctor before taking any medicine - Some prescription and over-the-counter drugs are associated with fetal abnormalities and miscarriages. One study suggested that women who use pain-relieving medications such as ibuprofen and aspirin around the time of conception may also increase their risk of miscarriage. Ask your doctor which medications you may take without putting your baby at risk.

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Cord Blood Registry
March of Dimes
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