Miscarriage, also called spontaneous abortion or early pregnancy loss, is the loss of the fetus before 20 weeks of gestation. Miscarriage rates may vary among women due to many factors.
Read this article to know more about the miscarriage statistics based on age, weeks of gestation, chances of miscarriage in fertility treatments, and rates of recurrent miscarriages.
How Many Pregnancies End In Miscarriage?
Spontaneous abortion or pregnancy loss may occur for approximately half of the pregnancies before the woman knows she was pregnant. About 10 to 15% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage (1).
Around 15% of miscarriages may happen in the second trimester, that is, between 13 and 19 weeks of pregnancy (2). Second-trimester miscarriages are often called late miscarriages. A pregnancy loss that happens after 20 weeks of gestation is called a stillbirth, and it is not included in miscarriage statistics.
It is possible to have healthy pregnancies after a miscarriage too, and this is a natural process. You should try to understand it and not be emotionally affected by it. Medical termination of pregnancy (MTP) or medical abortions and self-induced abortions or self-induced miscarriages are not included in the rates mentioned above.
When Does Miscarriage Happen?
Most miscarriages tend to occur in the first trimester, that is, within the first 13 weeks, and this period accounts for around 80-85 % of all cases (3) (4). Among these, most incidences of miscarriages happen during the first seven weeks of pregnancy.
The risk of miscarriage can be higher or lower in each stage of pregnancy, depending on multiple maternal and fetal factors. Early pregnancy losses can be due to genetic factors, such as chromosomal abnormalities in the fetus. Early pregnancy loss factors are mostly beyond the control of women.
What Are The Miscarriage Rates By Week?
The miscarriage rate may vary depending on multiple factors among women.
- 3-4 weeks: This is the time when implantation occurs after the last menstruation, and pregnancy tests become positive. 50–75% of pregnancy loss happens before a positive pregnancy test, that is, before the fourth week. This is called chemical pregnancy and often indicated by other pregnancy and miscarriage symptoms.
- 5th week: The miscarriage rate can be around 21.3 %, according to a 2013 study. However, there can be a higher or lower risk of pregnancy loss depending on the maternal and fetal causes.
- 6–7 weeks: The rate of miscarriage during this week is about 5% since it is a point when the fetal heartbeat is obtained.
- 8–13 weeks: Miscarriage rate drops in this period to around 2–4%.
- 14–20 weeks: There is only a 1% chance of miscarriage during these weeks.
What Are The Miscarriage Rates By Age?
The miscarriage rate usually increases with age. The declining quality of ovum (egg) with increasing age could be one of the major causes of a higher incidence of pregnancy loss with advanced maternal age. The ovum has genetic problems in the form of chromosomal abnormalities.
The frequency of pregnancy loss for women at different ages is the following (3).
Note: Paternal age over 35 years could also increase the risk of spontaneous abortion (7).
The above-mentioned risk of miscarriage is purely based on maternal age. However, several other risk factors, such as chronic illnesses, lifestyle, and hormonal changes, could influence the miscarriage rate.
Risk Of Miscarriage And IVF
There is a chance of early pregnancy loss in 10-25% of the IVF-ET cycle (in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer) (8). The pregnancy loss after an IVF procedure may affect you emotionally, physically, and financially since the pregnancy is not continued and often another IVF cycle is required.
Miscarriage is an indication that the embryo was implanted into the uterus. Biochemical pregnancy (positive pregnancy test) is also considered as a positive indicator for pregnancy.
Chromosomal anomalies could be a significant cause of spontaneous clinical abortions.
Recurrent Miscarriage Rate
Recurrent miscarriage, habitual abortion, or repeated pregnancy loss (RPL) is a loss of three consecutive pregnancies before 20 weeks from the last menstruation. About 1–2% of women may experience repeated miscarriages, and it can leave many couples physically and mentally drained (9).
Repeated miscarriage can be due to genetic factors, autoimmune conditions, infections, anatomical problems, or other unknown reasons. You may seek expert help to identify the cause and treatment to have a healthy pregnancy in the future.
Chance Of Miscarriage After Fetal Heartbeat
The miscarriage rate declines at the point after the fetal heartbeat is detected on the ultrasound (1). Some studies suggest a 10% drop in the miscarriage rate once the baby’s heartbeat is detectable (10).
Many women may not be aware of fetal heartbeat until the first prenatal ultrasound scan by the 11th or 12th week. However, those who had fertility treatment may undergo scans earlier to accurately detect the risk of miscarriage based on the fetal heartbeat.
When Does The Risk Of Miscarriage Drop?
The pregnancy loss or miscarriage rate by week reduces when the pregnancy progresses. The risk of miscarriage may start to decline as early as when fetal heartbeats are detectable, which is around the 7th week of pregnancy. However, a significant decline in the rate of miscarriage occurs after 12 weeks of gestation.
The drop in the miscarriage rate can also depend on other risk factors. For instance, chromosomal abnormalities could cause early pregnancy loss, while maternal factors like fibroids could result in late miscarriages.
What Should You Do If You Experience A Pregnancy Loss?
You may consult a gynecologist or any other doctor if you experience a miscarriage. They can give you the required treatment or help you identify the reason for pregnancy loss and resolve it.
The pregnancy tissue may not be expelled entirely during miscarriages in some cases. You may require an ultrasound examination to confirm the complete miscarriage. If any tissues are left in the uterus, then your doctor may initiate treatment to remove these tissues and avoid complications.
Heavy bleeding and signs of infection (septic abortion) may require emergency care since these can be life-threatening. Your doctor can also suggest preventive measures, such as Rh immunoglobulin, if you have Rh-negative blood type to avoid problems in the next pregnancy.
The time taken to recover from a miscarriage and get back to regular periods may vary in each woman, depending on the stage of the pregnancy and other physical and emotional factors. You may seek medical consultation to plan the next pregnancy and consider taking prenatal vitamins and mineral supplementation early in pregnancy.
2. Thomas C. Michels; Second Trimester Pregnancy Loss; The American Academy of Family Physicians
3. Early Pregnancy Loss; The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
4. Miscarriage: your questions answered; NCT (National Childbirth Trust)
5. Miscarriage ; American Pregnancy Sssociation
6. Sudeshna Mukherjee, et al.; Risk of Miscarriage Among Black Women and White Women in a US Prospective Cohort Study; The American Journal of Epidemiology (2013).
7. Riffat Jaleel and Ayesha Khan; Paternal factors in spontaneous first trimester miscarriage; Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences (2013).
8. G.Wright Bates Jr and Elizabeth S Ginsburg; Early pregnancy loss in in vitro fertilization (IVF) is a positive predictor of subsequent IVF success; The American Society for Reproductive Medicine and Canadian Fertility and Andrology; Fertstert
9. Holly B Ford and Danny J Schust; Recurrent Pregnancy Loss: Etiology, Diagnosis, and Therapy; Rev Obstet Gynecol (2009).
10. Stephen Tong, et al.; Miscarriage Risk for Asymptomatic Women After a Normal First-Trimester Prenatal Visit; Obstet Gynecol (2008).