Lifestyle Changes to help Reduce the Risk of Recurrent Miscarriages
Updated: Apr 8
Often I find patients are informed that there is nothing that can be done to reduce the risk of miscarriage, even though they may be looking at their first, second, third, of fourth+ miscarriage. And while that answer may be kind of right for 2/3 cases, there are some important factors to consider when it comes to about 1/3 cases.
Miscarriages can be divided in to two different categories: aneuploid (abnormal number of chromosomes, usually a trisomy) or exploid (balanced number of chromosomes). Majority of aneuploid pregnancies terminate in a miscarriage as they are genetically non-viable. However, with euploid pregnancies, everything is healthy from the genetic standpoint.
The reduction for the risk of aneuploidy is beyond the scope of this post, but we have discussed some of the topics in previous research posts that can impact the risk for aneuploidy. One of these factors is related to egg quality. Some small studies have found that the use of specific antioxidants may reduce genomic instability in follicles and in the sperm cell DNA and may be associated with a reduced risk for aneuploidy.
To help support pregnancies and reducing the risk of miscarriage for patients that a euploid pregnancy there are specific lifestyle factors that may play a role. A new systematic review and meta-analysis published in the Journal of Scientific Reports reviewed available research for modifiable lifestyle factors that may impact the risk of miscarriage.
Can Obesity Increase the Risk of Miscarriage?
Of the various factors evaluated in the above mentioned research paper, one of them was weight. And it was observed that being overweight is associated with an increased risk of miscarriage (differences were statistically significant). A patient, without a history of recurrent miscarriages, with a body-mass index (BMI) above 25 has about a 20% increased risk for a miscarriage when compared to a BMI in a healthy range.
If a patient has a history of recurrent miscarriages and the BMI is above 25 the risk for another miscarriage is 35% higher compared to a patient with a healthy BMI and the risk further increases to 77% if the BMI is above 30.
Can Being Underweight Increase Miscarriage Risk?
Similar to increased BMIs, low BMIs are also associated with an increased risk of miscarriages. A patient without a prior history of miscarriages that is underweight may have a 20% higher risk of miscarriage compared to a patient with a BMI in the healthy range. However, no associations were found for further risk of miscarriage when compared to other patients with a history of recurrent miscarriages.
Can Alcohol Increase the Risk for Miscarriage?
Consumption of alcohol was associated with a 12% increase in the risk of miscarriages, but the values did not reach statistical significance. The research in this area was limited and so quality of evidence was very low.
It is important to note that no amount of alcohol has been established as a safe dose during pregnancy and should be avoided altogether to reduce the risk of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS).
Can Smoking Increase the Risk of Miscarriage?
Various studies have found the those who smoke are at an elevated risk for miscarriage compared to patients with do not smoke. Although the differences were not statistically significant, the risk of miscarriage was estimated to increase by 62%.
The greater the amount of cigarettes used, the greater the risk of miscarriage became according to one of the studies included in the review. This trend was significant.
Can Increased Caffeine Intake Increase the Risk of Miscarriage?
Consuming more than 99mg of caffeine was associated with a 35% increased risk for miscarriage compared to patients that consumed less than 99 mg of caffeine. The number of studies included that analyzed this connection were few and small, so the quality of the research was low and more studies are needed.
New studies are also establishing a correlation between imbalanced reproductive microbiomes and the risk of miscarriage as well as the level of sperm DNA fragmentation rates.
Ng, K. Y., Cherian, G., Kermack, A. J., Bailey, S., Macklon, N., Sunkara, S. K., & Cheong, Y. (2021). Systematic review and meta-analysis of female lifestyle factors and risk of recurrent pregnancy loss. Scientific Reports, 11(1). doi:10.1038/s41598-021-86445-2
This article is in no way a replacement for medical advice or medical care, it is advised that anyone concerned about their Health should speak with their Naturopathic Doctor. Please discuss with your healtcare provider and only make changes to your medications regimen if recommended by your doctor and under their guidance.