Study: No Need to Delay Pregnancy After Miscarriage
Women Who Conceive Within 6 Months Less Likely to Miscarry Again
Aug. 5, 2010 -- How soon until we can try again? This is one of the first questions that women who have experienced a miscarriage will ask their doctor. And a new study suggests that there is no reason for many women to delay getting pregnant after a miscarriage. According to a new study, the sooner a woman conceives again, the better her chances of having a healthy pregnancy.
Specifically, women who conceive within six months after a miscarriage are less likely to miscarry again or experience other pregnancy-related complications when compared with women who wait for longer periods of time. The findings appear in the journal BMJ.
"Women can be broadly reassured that the next pregnancy is likely to have a positive outcome, and they should try to conceive as soon as they feel physically and mentally ready," says study researcher Sohinee Bhattacharya, MD, an obstetrician at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, in an email.
The Sooner, the Better?
Exactly how long a woman should wait to conceive after a miscarriage is controversial. Some doctors suggest trying again as soon as possible, while guidelines from the World Health Organization (WHO) call for waiting for at least six months, and others suggest waiting for as long as 18 months.
The new study included information on subsequent pregnancies achieved among 30,937 women who miscarried during their first pregnancy. The researchers did not have data about the cause of the miscarriage.
Overall, women who became pregnant within six months of miscarrying had better outcomes and a lower risk of complications than their counterparts who waited longer to conceive after a miscarriage.
Women who waited two years to conceive after their miscarriage had a higher risk for potentially life-threatening ectopic pregnancy (when the fertilized egg has implanted outside the uterus, usually in the fallopian tubes) and/or pregnancy termination than women who conceived earlier. These women were also more likely to deliver via cesarean section or give birth to premature or low-birth-weight babies than women who became pregnant within six months after their miscarriage, the study shows.
The study did include women who had miscarried later in pregnancy, and the findings were broadly similar to those who had miscarriages earlier in their pregnancy.
There are some subgroups of women who may need to wait longer before becoming pregnant again, including women who show signs of an infection, the researchers caution.
The Age Factor
It may not be possible to generalize the findings outside of the population studied, Bhattacharya cautions. "Our data show that at least in Scottish women, there is no need to delay pregnancy following a miscarriage, " she tells WebMD. "WHO guidance regarding birth spacing after miscarriage may still hold in other populations where delayed child bearing is not an issue and where access to prenatal care is very different."