Difficulty Getting Pregnant Linked With Miscarriage

From the WebMD Archives

Sept. 12, 2000 -- In this day and age, women are waiting later in life to have kids, and it can feel like getting pregnant isn't as quick and easy as it once was in the first place. Morever, many women discover that, once pregnant, it may still be too soon to celebrate. Now research backs that up by showing that women who try unsuccessfully for a year or more to conceive a child may be at higher risk for miscarriage when they do finally become pregnant.

A study of more than 1,500 women (ages 15 to 44) found that those who were trying to get pregnant a year or longer were almost two times more likely to have a miscarriage -- pregnancy loss before the 28th week -- compared with women who conceived soon after trying.

Lead author Ronald H. Gray, MD, who published the findings in the September issue of the American Journal of Public Health, says the study adds to other work suggesting that at least some women who appear to be having trouble getting pregnant may actually be having miscarriages that occur so early that the woman never realizes she was pregnant. Gray concludes that more research on why women with delays in getting pregnant -- a condition some doctors call subfertility if it lasts for a year or more -- have more miscarriages is needed.

"It will help us to better manage the care of women who have subfertility and recurrent pregnancy losses," Gray says in a press release issued by Johns Hopkins School of Public Health in Baltimore, where he is professor of population and family health sciences.

In the study, women who did not have a verified pregnancy for a year or more after they began trying had a miscarriage rate of 23%, while those who became pregnant soon after they began trying had a miscarriage rate of just 14%.

Also, although older age is a recognized risk factor for miscarriage, the study found that subfertility may have more of an effect on younger women.