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Stress and Miscarriage

Updated on June 28, 2016

Theories vary on exactly why stress during pregnancy would

affect the baby, but some center around a hormone called

cortisol. Cortisol tends to be elevated in people feeling stressed.

Some elevation is normal during pregnancy but above

average elevations could be related to miscarriage..

Currently, no one is able to say conclusively that "stress

causes miscarriages," but it also doesn't seem accurate to

say that it's a myth that stress can cause pregnancy loss.

The truth is that it is possible that anxiety and stress could

be linked with miscarriage but the evidence is too unclear to

draw conclusions.

It is unlikely that normal everyday stress and worries, such

as worrying about finances or deadlines at work, would

have any effect on pregnancy, but it is possible that major

levels of stress could cause miscarriage or later pregnancy


During early pregnancy, miscarriage may be more likely

among women with high levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

miscarriages during the first three weeks of pregnancy are

nearly three times as common among women with high

cortisol levels, compared with women with normal cortisol


Most miscarriages happen very early during pregnancy.

Some miscarriages are due to health problems with the

mother or fetus. Others don't seem to have an obvious cause.

Maternal stress is often blamed for "unexplained" miscarriages,.

Such that

  • Miscarriages are 2.7 times more likely among women with increased cortisol levels.
  • Miscarriages happens after an average of about two weeks of pregnancy.
  • 90% of women with high cortisol levels miscarries in the first three weeks of pregnancy.

33% of women with normal cortisol levels miscarries in the first three weeks of pregnancy. The cause of most miscarriages is never established, but they are usually attributed to abnormalities in the foetus or maternal health problems.

This leads to the immune system more hostile to the foetus, leading to the placenta coming under attack.

The foetus is rejected because its blood supply cannot be sustained.

stress hormones such as cortisol are raised in the bloodstream, suppressing the production of progesterone - a hormone which is crucial to the maintenance of a healthy pregnancy.

Falling levels of progesterone lead to a fall in the levels of progesterone-induced blocking factor (PABF) trigger the production of molecules such as interleukin-4 and interleukin-10 within the immune system.

In healthy pregnancies, these molecules tell the immune system to tolerate the foreign cells of the placenta and foetus.

Stress however has a major impact on pregnancy maintenance."

stress could be linked to miscarriage, rather than saying it directly causes it."


© 2008 Nikade Etimide


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