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Understanding the Various Forms of Pregnancy Loss

Nearly 2 million pregnancies are lost out of the approximately 6 million that occur in the United States each year, according to the American Pregnancy Association (APA).  Of the many ways it can occur, decisions to terminate a pregnancy account for more than half of all lost pregnancies, with more than 1.2 million pregnancies terminated each year in this country. The other 800,000 lost pregnancies are due to miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies, molar pregnancies and stillbirths.

Miscarriages

This form of pregnancy is also commonly referred to as spontaneous abortion (SAB), and is classified by any pregnancy that ends on its own within the first 20 weeks of gestation. Approximately 600,000 pregnancies are lost to miscarriages in the U.S. each year. It has been found that between 10 and 25 percent of all clinically recognized pregnancies will end in a miscarriage. Chemical pregnancies account for upwards of 75 percent of all miscarriages.

Ectopic Pregnancy

An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the fertilized egg becomes attached anywhere other than in the uterus. Most ectopic pregnancies occur in the fallopian tubes. According to the APA, 1 out of every 60 pregnancies will be classified as ectopic. Women at the highest risk of ectopic pregnancies are between the ages of 35 and 44 and have a personal history of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). Nearly 64,000 ectopic pregnancies occur in the U.S. every year.

Molar Pregnancy

A molar pregnancy is due to abnormalities in the placenta. The problem originates when the egg and sperm come together at the time of fertilization and a genetic error causes abnormal growth to occur inside the uterus. Some of the symptoms for molar pregnancies are vaginal spotting or bleeding, nausea, vomiting and thyroid complications. It is estimated that 6,000 molar pregnancies happen annually in America.

Stillbirth

Fetal deaths occurring after 20 weeks of gestation are known as stillbirths. According to the APA, 26,000 stillbirths are estimated to occur in the U.S. each year. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, some of the risk factors for stillbirths include smoking during a pregnancy, obesity in the pregnant mother, very high blood pressure and diabetes. Fortunately, rates of incidence for stillbirths have been slowly declining since 1990, especially cases occurring after 28 weeks.