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Understanding Miscarriage: Possible Causes

Miscarriage is common, but finding its cause may not be easy. If a cause can be found, it’s likely to be a problem with the baby or the uterus. Other factors cause miscarriage, but they are less common.

Problems with the baby

Either of these problems with the baby can cause a miscarriage:

  • A problem with the baby’s chromosomes

  • Birth defects

Problems with the uterus or cervix

Any of these problems with the uterus or cervix can cause a miscarriage:

  • The uterus may be divided (have a septum). Or it may have growths such as fibroids or adhesions.

  • The lining of the uterus may be too thin for the fertilized egg to grow in.

  • The cervix may be too weak to support the weight of a growing baby.

Other factors

Any of these problems can cause a miscarriage:

  • A serious illness, such as uncontrolled diabetes mellitus. 

  • A bad injury, such as from a car accident.

  • Contact with toxins or radiation.

What does not cause miscarriage

A lot of myths and “old wives’ tales” try to explain the cause of miscarriage. But they aren't true. None of these cause miscarriage:

  • Carrying groceries

  • Lifting a small child

  • Wearing high heels

  • Coloring your hair

  • Having sex

  • Vacuuming

  • Working outside the home

  • Being a vegetarian

  • Eating spicy foods

  • Having a Pap smear

  • Riding a horse or a bicycle

  • Wishing away or denying a pregnancy

Online Medical Reviewer: Donna Freeborn PhD CNM FNP
Online Medical Reviewer: Heather Trevino
Online Medical Reviewer: Irina Burd MD PhD
Date Last Reviewed: 1/1/2020
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