A new US survey has found that most Americans mistakenly believe miscarriages are rare and do not understand the causes. While miscarriage is the most common complication of early pregnancy, 40% of the respondents who had had a miscarriage believed that they had done something wrong to cause it. An even larger number of respondents said they believe that a stressful event frequently causes a miscarriage (76%), and that a common cause was lifting a heavy object (64%). In fact, most miscarriages are actually caused by chromosomal abnormalities.
"Almost without exception, after a miscarriage patients feel that they did something wrong," said Dr. Zev Williams, director of the program for early and recurrent pregnancy loss at the Montefiore Medical Center and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University in New York City where the survey was conducted.
"We assume that patients understand that a miscarriage is a very common event, but they don't," said Dr. Williams. "There's a disconnect between what we healthcare providers know and what patients believe.”
The survey also highlighted the guilt and shame surrounding miscarriages. 40% of the respondents who had had a miscarriage believed that they had done something wrong to cause it, 27% felt ashamed, 40% felt alone, and 47% felt guilty. "It's one of those things that is kept very quiet,” Dr. Williams noted. “As a result, there are a lot of people who feel very alone.”
Dr. Williams presented the survey at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine 69th Annual Meeting. He also gave a related presentation on rescue karyotyping, a new technology that allows physicians to analyze archived tissue samples to obtain genetic information from a previous miscarriage. There is hope this technology can be used in the future to correct misconceptions about miscarriage and help explain recurrent pregnancy loss.
Learn more about the signs and causes of miscarriage.