A cross section of gynaecologists on Wednesday in Lagos said over 30 per cent of all pregnancies end up in miscarriages.
The doctors, who spoke in an interview, said that because these losses occurred early in pregnancy, many miscarriages happen without the women knowing that they were pregnant.
A Consultant Obstetrician and Gynecologist at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Dr Joseph Olamijulo said: “If you take into consideration all pregnancies, about 30 to 40 per cent of them result in miscarriages.”
According to Olamijulo, this includes the pregnancies that the women are aware of, the ones that they are not aware of, cases of delayed menstrual periods and related ones.
“ Often times, these miscarriages occur so early before the women even recognise that they are or have been pregnant.
“For the pregnancies that have been confirmed, it is just about 16 to 20 per cent of them that end up in miscarriages,’’ he said.
Olamijulo said that though miscarriages were not uncommon occurrences, the major cause of miscarriagesin the first trimester was chromosomal structural abnormalities.
“The first trimester starts from the first day of your last menstrual period up to the end of week 12.
“ Most miscarriages occur during the first few months of pregnancy. It is generally estimated that about 75 per cent miscarriages happen during the first trimester or first three months of pregnancy.
“Many things can cause miscarriage, but the most common cause of a miscarriage especially during the first trimester is usually chromosomal abnormalities of the fetus.
“The chromosomes are components of every cell in the body. They carry the genes that determine such things as the facial features, eye color, structure of nose, among others.
“In the process of embryo formation, cells divide severally. Along the way, a problem can occur. An abnormal chromosome or occurrence in the division can lead to miscarriage,’’ he explained.
Olamijulo said that other causes of miscarriages included infections, uterine abnormalities, endocrine abnormalities, fever, hormonal problems like thyroid diseases, environmental pollution and contamination and diseases such as diabetes.
Another gynaecologist, Dr Victor Abbe, said that miscarriage during the second trimester was uncommon and that age and lifestyle were other likely factors associated with miscarriages.
“ Pregnancy loss during the second trimester that is from 13 to 27 weeks is uncommon. Then, advancing maternal age also is a risk factor.
“The older the female, the higher the chances of miscarriages occurring. Studies have shown that from the age of 30, a woman is termed as high risk when it comes to pregnancy.
“As she reaches the age of 42, her risk of having miscarriage increases to as high as 50 per cent.
“Lifestyle such as smoking, consumption of alcohol and use of some drugs have all been associated with increased risks of miscarriages,’’ he said.
According to Abbe, there is no particular pattern to miscarriages, but common symptoms are vaginal spotting or bleeding, which can vary in heaviness and colour, abdominal cramps and feeling faint.
Abbe said that treatment of miscarriage was directed toward the fundamental cause of that particular miscarriage.
“One cannot categorically say that this is a particular treatment for miscarriage, except you determine and evaluate the root cause of that loss.
“ First of all, the woman should consult a competent obstetrician and gynaecologist who will examine and give some recommendations like a pelvic ultrasound or blood tests.
“Then, in the case of an incomplete spontaneous abortion, that is, if the woman has not expelled all the fetal tissues, Dilation and Curettage (D and C) is performed to remove any remaining products.
“The gynaecologist will also be able to monitor the patient and recommend ways of managing future pregnancies.