Can stress cause a miscarriage? It's a question on a lot pregnant women's minds.
According to the Mayo Clinic, about 10 to 20 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage. The good news is that everyday stress — work issues, tiffs, deadlines, and other minor daily problems — have not been linked to miscarriage. The research concerning intensely stressful situations, such as losing a job, dealing with the grief of losing a loved one, or suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, is a bit more vague.
According to a 2008 study in Denmark of more than19,000 pregnant women, women who incurred significantly high levels of stress had an 80 percent greater risk of stillbirth than women who experience a more moderate level of stress during pregnancy.
A team of scientists from Tufts University and Greece performed a study about why stress might increase the risk of miscarriage — medically known as "spontaneous abortion." During times of stress, the brain releases stress hormones known as corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH). The stress hormones are also produced in the placenta and uterus of a pregnant woman to trigger contractions during delivery. The research shows that this chemical may be produced elsewhere in the body, specifically targeting mast cells, which are abundant in the uterus. This may trigger the release of chemicals that could cause a miscarriage.
Unfortunately, there hasn't been a substantial amount of research on the link between stress and miscarriage and the risk of miscarriage in women with high levels of stress. However, how pregnant women respond to stress, on the other hand, can certainly affect pregnancy and even result in pregnancy loss.
You probably know that alcohol can be very dangerous for the fetus. But other non-prescription substances you may take in response to stress, such as anti-inflammatory drugs, can affect your pregnancy and result in the loss of the pregnancy. Even taking ibuprofen can increase your risk factors of suffering a spontaneous abortion or birth defects. (Acetaminophen, the main ingredient found in Tylenol, is thought to be safe, however.)
While avoiding too much stress is a good idea to ensure you have a healthy pregnancy, you don't have too much to worry about if you're just dealing with annoying, everyday stress. Still, there's no harm in trying to avoid particularly stressful situations if you can; having a baby is stressful enough!
High levels of stress can affect a fetus adversely. Complications that result from it include premature delivery and low birth weight.
Raw fish, shellfish and raw or deli meat, which can carry listeria, can lead to miscarriage and other complications. Alcohol and caffeine have also been linked to miscarriage.
Most miscarriages occur before the 12th week of pregnancy and are often due to health conditions, abnormalities in development or biological factors rather than external ones. Chronic health conditions, age and weight can also play a role, along with alcohol, drug or caffeine intake.