woman grieving after a miscarriage

Reasons for Miscarriage or Recurrent Miscarriage

What Causes Miscarriage?

There are a number of factors that can contribute to recurrent miscarriage:

  1. Genetic defects with the fetus.  These can be caused by oxidative stress/oxidation, MTHFR genetic mutation and/or exposure to toxins and pollutants.
  2. Low luteal phase progesterone/luteal phase defect.  A shortened luteal phase or suboptimal production of progesterone during a normal length luteal phase can affect implantation and fetal development.
  3. Gluten allergy/intolerance.  Undiagnosed celiac disease and/or gluten intolerance have been correlated with recurrent miscarriage.
  4. Autoimmune.  In autoimmune disorders, such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, there are several factors that may cause overactivity of the immune system such as underfunctioning adrenal glands, poor gut health and food allergies.
  5. Hormone imbalance.  Consuming a high glycemic index diet can cause various hormone imbalances that can contribute to miscarriage.
  6. Low thyroid function.  Even at fertility clinics, thyroid disorders sometimes go undiagnosed.

How Can You Prevent a Miscarriage?

To prevent miscarriages, as a naturopath, I would address each of these factors accordingly:

  1. Genetic defects can occur due to:
    a)  high oxidative stress in either the mother or the father, remember the dad contributes half of the DNA that goes into the fetus.  Reducing factors that contribute to oxidative stress like diet, sedentary lifestyle, smoking and increasing antioxidant intake can help.
    b)  an MTHFR genetic mutation in either the mother or father.  Most people would have no idea if they had this (although 25-60% of the population has) or even what it is.  Most doctors wouldn’t even know what it is, although there is a test that can be done for it.  Having this mutation means that an individual can’t reap the benefits of folic acid in preventing birth defects and DNA damage.  This can be overcome by using exclusively ACTIVE folic acid, 5MTHF.
    c)  toxin accumulation.  The liver is responsible for breaking down toxins like body waste, pollution, pesticides etc for excretion.  If the liver is lacking a vital vitamin, mineral or amino acid to do this, then toxins accumulate in your system.  Providing vitamin B6, vitamin B12, 5MTHF, magnesium, indole-3-carbinol and calcium-d-glucarate can facilitate healthy excretion of toxins and balance hormones.
  2. Low luteal phase progesterone is frequently the cause of miscarriage.  Having adequate progesterone enables healthy embryo implantation and maintains the pregnancy through the first trimester.  Diet, stress and exercise play a significant role in determining progesterone production.  Herbs and vitamins can be used to enhance progesterone production.
  3. Gluten allergy/intolerance – bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, tiredness after eating, and heartburn can all be possible signs of a gluten allergy or intolerance.  Studies have shown a significant correlation between gluten allergy/intolerance and recurrent miscarriage.
  4. Autoimmune issues – Sometimes a miscarriage occurs due to antibodies produced against the fetus.  The body should recognize the fetus as safe and not produce such antibodies, but under conditions of poor adrenal gland function, dysbiosis in the digestive tract and/or food allergies antibodies can be produced that can then cross react with fetal tissue.  Adrenal support, probiotics and removal of food sensitivities can help tone down the immune system.
  5. Hormone imbalance – Standard North American diets that are heavy in carbs tend to promote hormone imbalances that can cause infertility and/or recurrent miscarriage.  A low glycemic index/low glycemic load diet can help.
  6. An underactive thyroid can contribute to miscarriage.  The standard blood test for thyroid function is called a TSH level, or thyroid stimulating hormone.  The normal range for TSH = 0.35 – 5.00.  This range is exceptionally broad (like saying 35-500 is normal!).  Many fertility clinics are now giving thyroid medication to women whose TSH is greater than 2.00.  In some instances to improve thyroid function, the thyroid just needs to be supported nutritionally, in others, autoimmune conditions need to be corrected (Hashimoto’s), where in some patients thyroid medication appears to be the only solution.   Properly functioning thyroid is vital to maintaining a pregnancy and a healthy child.