Was your loss really chromosomal?

by Irene Daria

Most doctors won't investigate the cause of a miscarriage until a woman has lost at least two consecutive pregnancies. The physicians assume the losses were due to random chromosomal abnormalities since these are believed to cause 50 to 60 percent of all miscarriages. That's a poor assumption, says reproductive pathologist Carolyn Salafia, M.D., Ph.D., because "there are definite symptoms indicating whether something else may be causing you to miscarry. The sooner you identify the cause, the sooner you can treat it and save your next pregnancy."

The clue to whether or not a loss was caused by a chromosomal abnormality often lies in the way your miscarriage happened. It was probably chromosomal if you showed no signs of trouble with your pregnancy and were told during a sonogram that a heartbeat had never developed or that the heart had stopped beating some time before. However, "if you are cramping and bleeding and the baby's heart is still beating, a malfunction in the uterine environment or placenta may be causing the baby's death," says Dr. Salafia.

If you had a D&C for your earlier miscarriages, chances are your hospital has the slides from that procedure and those can be reviewed by a reproductive pathologist.