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Preventing Miscarriages

Women who miscarry during the first tri-mester are often told that it was due to random chromosomal error. And in 50 to 70 percent of first-trimester miscarriages, this is true. But women who go on to have a second or even third miscarriage are likely given the same explanation, since many doctors wait until at least three losses to investigate the issue further, says Darci Klein, author of To Full Term: A Mother's Triumph Over Miscarriage.

But experts say action can be taken sooner, and you should ask your doctor for further testing, because nearly one-third of pregnancy losses are caused by undiagnosed yet treatable disorders.

"I recommend that a second loss be sent for chromosomal testing; this is underutilized in this country, but it's the one test that can tell you whether further evaluation is needed," says Mary Stephenson, M.D., director of the University of Chicago Recurrent Pregnancy Loss Program.

How testing works: The tissue from the miscarriage is sent to a genetics lab. If the results show that there is a random chromosomal error, then you don't have an increased chance of a future miscarriage. If no chromosomal error is found, however, then your doctor will know to do additional testing before you try to conceive again. Other possible causes of miscarriage include an inherited genetic abnormality, an endocrine disorder, a uterine problem, or an immunological issue. Since these conditions may be treatable, getting an early diagnosis could be your first step toward having a healthy baby.

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