In this Article
- What is a Chromosomal Abnormality
- Why Chromosomal Abnormalities Cause a Miscarriage
- Risk Factors for Pregnancies Affected by Chromosomal Abnormalities
- Which Chromosomal Abnormalities Cause a Miscarriage
- Recurrent Miscarriage and Its Link with Chromosomal Abnormalities
- Treatment for Chromosomal Abnormalities That Cause a Miscarriage
- How to Prevent a Miscarriage Due to Chromosomal Abnormalities
- Tests for Chromosomal Abnormalities Post Miscarriage
- Planning for Future Pregnancy After a Miscarriage
A miscarriage is a painful experience for a woman. A major cause of a miscarriage is chromosomal abnormalities. In the process of growth of the baby in the womb, there are chances where the chromosomes that it receives from the birth parents may be incorrect, leading to abnormalities in its development. While this can complicate the pregnancy and lead to an improper growth of the child, it may also lead to a miscarriage.
What is a Chromosomal Abnormality
When an egg is fertilized by the sperm, a lot of chemicals are exchanged together, along with the connection of chromosomes, which govern how a child will grow. When these chromosomes present in the zygote are not present in a proper manner, a chromosomal abnormality is said to occur. This usually is caused when the sperm cells have anomalies or the egg walls are damaged or even as the zygote develops.
Why Chromosomal Abnormalities Cause a Miscarriage
The reason for miscarriage due to chromosomal abnormalities has not been fully discovered with conclusive evidence. Nevertheless, such anomalies can cause the fertilized egg to be formed partially and not be strong enough to implant itself in the uterus. This can cause quite an early miscarriage. In other cases, the zygote that is formed with these abnormalities might be deemed hazardous by the internal bodily processes. These could trigger the immune system to attack the zygote and terminate the pregnancy altogether.
Risk Factors for Pregnancies Affected by Chromosomal Abnormalities
Women who have chromosomal abnormalities during one pregnancy may think that they would have it in next pregnancy also, however, this is not true. The chances of chromosomal abnormalities recurring multiple times is a rarity since the pairing itself is quite unique in each individual. Therefore, having a miscarriage due to chromosomal abnormalities won’t necessarily mean the next one would have to suffer the same fate.
The risk of a miscarriage is more when the age of the parents is more. The pregnancy risks in women who are over 35 years old increases substantially along with the chances of chromosomal abnormalities. Similarly, men who are 40 or above may have a problem in conceiving a child.
Other factors such as exposure to toxic chemicals at work or in other environments could also disturb the proper combination of chromosomes. A certain combination of genes or factors involving the structuring of sperms and eggs could play a role as well.
Which Chromosomal Abnormalities Cause a Miscarriage
There are two major abnormalities in chromosomes that can trigger a miscarriage.
1. Abnormalities in the Parent Chromosome
Such scenarios are rather rare and happen only in extremely unique cases. This usually happens when either parent tends to have an unnatural chromosome. At times, such chromosomes could switch positions and pair with other chromosomes, causing an abnormality known as translocation chromosomal anomaly. These cases can result in a baby that is completely normal, but the resulting similar chromosomal pairing or anomalies could result in a miscarriage.
2. Abnormalities in the Embryo Chromosome
This is the abnormality that is the major culprit behind a majority of cases ending with miscarriages. The most popular cause in this scenario is an unnatural number of chromosomes in the embryo, which could either be less than or more than the required 23 pairs. Such improper pairs result in an embryo that fails to develop fully and struggle to survive within the womb, leading to a miscarriage. Few babies to tend to stay through the entire term of pregnancy but are born with extremely debilitating birth defects and developmental disorders, which make their life quite difficult. These chromosome abnormalities manifest either as a missing pair, or a missing partner, or an extra chromosome as well.
Recurrent Miscarriage and Its Link with Chromosomal Abnormalities
Knowing the potential of various chromosomal abnormalities leading to miscarriage will make you wonder if this is a case that would repeat constantly. Well, the chances of this happening are substantial if the chromosomal abnormalities are a result of genetic issues in the parents. Most miscarriages usually end in the initial stages with the foetus aborting spontaneously. In other cases, chances of chromosomal pairing going wrong are quite a rarity to repeat again.
Treatment for Chromosomal Abnormalities That Cause a Miscarriage
When there are chromosomal abnormalities in the embryo, there is no treatment as such that can prevent it from happening. The chances of chromosomal abnormalities increase with the higher age of parents and its possibility of taking place can only be devised and screened, but cannot be treated. If a woman doesn’t undergo a miscarriage, the baby will be born, but he may have substantial defects.
For embryos that suffer from translocation abnormalities, opting for a different egg or a sperm could prevent it from happening to an extent. IVF is usually recommended in such cases.
How to Prevent a Miscarriage Due to Chromosomal Abnormalities
While certain genetic factors and biological conditions cannot be changed, there are a bunch of ways to prevent a miscarriage or a chromosomal abnormality. Taking care of certain lifestyle choices and staying away from toxic substances that affect the body in various ways can be a great factor in reducing the chances of chromosomal abnormalities in parents. Also, it is best to try again for another child since the chances of the same abnormality repeating are minimal.
Tests for Chromosomal Abnormalities Post Miscarriage
In order to know how to avoid a miscarriage due to chromosomal abnormalities, there are a few tests that can be undertaken to detect the root cause of the problem.
- Parental Karyotyping
This is where the genetic pattern of the parents is examined by understanding the foetal formation. In parental karyotyping blood from both or either of the parents is taken. Then the chromosomes are observed from the blood cells. Chromosomes from both sources are studied and any genetic issues are determined beforehand.
- Testing of Foetal Tissue for Abnormal Chromosomes
The success of this test usually depends on conducting it right after a woman experiences a miscarriage. Using a tissue of the foetus, its genetic makeup and chromosomal structure are studied to its inner depth, and any factors that resulted in its inability to stay within the womb are discovered.
Planning for Future Pregnancy After a Miscarriage
Depending on your doctor’s recommendations and the test results of your abnormality testing, there may be an option for you to try to conceive again if the chances of an abnormality repeating itself are minimal. However, if a recurring miscarriage seems to be a possibility, then it is best to opt for a different sperm or an egg by undertaking IVF in order to have a healthy baby.
A baby’s development in the mother’s womb is a complex process which depends on numerous factors. By getting a good idea of the genetic makeup of yourself and the foetus, you can reduce the chances of a miscarriage and ensure that you have a healthy baby.