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OB/GYN Miscarriage Diagnoses may Lead to Unintended Pregnancy Loss

Posted by floriza in OB/GYN

An article incorporating findings from a review of eight studies, and published in Ultrasound Obstetrics and Gynecology in October 2011, shows that miscarriages may be misdiagnosed too frequently and lead to the unintended termination of pregnancies. The review was conducted by the Women’s Health Research Unit at Queen Mary University in London, United Kingdom.

A prior study in Wales from 20 years ago also showed that miscarriage misdiagnoses were taking place in the early stage of pregnancy. This newer study indicates that this is still the case. The problem stems from inaccurate ultrasound diagnoses of embryonic death because the diagnoses are based on out-of-date guidelines.

The OB/GYN studies reviewed by the researchers took place between 1951 and 2011, although most were conducted two decades ago. The analysis results indicated that as many as four in every 100 diagnoses of embryonic death was inaccurate, resulting in an evacuation of the uterus and loss of the pregnancy, even though the baby may have been wanted.

Determining Pregnancy Loss

Traditionally, obstetrics/gynecology practitioners assume that if an embryo has not grown within a week to ten days after an initial ultrasound, the embryo has been miscarried. Another study at Imperial College in London, England (Hammersmith Campus) showed that lack of embryonic growth in these follow-up ultrasounds is not necessarily an indication of a miscarriage.

Pain and bleeding during the early stages of pregnancy have also been found to not necessarily mean a miscarriage has taken place.

The researchers believe these findings will help to prevent the inadvertent loss of wanted pregnancies and will encourage more studies that will help design better guidelines for ultrasound diagnoses of early pregnancy loss.

What is Miscarriage?

A miscarriage is a spontaneous abortion or unintended pregnancy loss which commonly happens in the early stages of pregnancy – prior to the 20th week. Taking into account pregnancies that are known and pregnancies that end in miscarriage before a woman is aware she is pregnant, more than 20 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage.

Sometimes, the cause of a miscarriage is unknown, although in most cases, the fetus has not developed properly. These include genetic abnormalities of the embryo, as well as placenta abnormalities. In some cases, a blighted ovum occurs, which is when a fertilized egg does not develop into an embryo despite the presence of a membrane and placenta.

Other known potential causes/risk factors include diabetes, infections, endocrinological problems, thyroid disease, and gynecological issues with the uterus or cervix.

Facilities specializing in obstetrics/gynecology in New Jersey offer prenatal care services that include careful ultrasound assessments.


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