Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Dr. Perlstein received his Medical Degree from the University of Cincinnati and then completed his internship and residency in pediatrics at The New York Hospital, Cornell medical Center in New York City. After serving an additional year as Chief Pediatric Resident, he worked as a private practitioner and then was appointed Director of Ambulatory Pediatrics at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx.
A miscarriage is the spontaneous loss of a pregnancy from conception to 20
weeks' gestation. The term stillbirth refers to the death of a fetus after
20 weeks' gestation. Miscarriage is sometimes referred to as spontaneous
abortion, because the medical term abortion means the ending of a pregnancy,
whether intentional or unintentional. Most miscarriages occur in the first
trimester of pregnancy, between the 7th and 12th weeks of pregnancy.
How common is miscarriage?
Miscarriage is very common. Because many or even most miscarriages occur so
early in pregnancy that a woman might not have known that she was pregnant, it
is difficult to estimate how many miscarriages occur. Some experts believe that
about half of all fertilized eggs die before implantation or are miscarried. Of
known pregnancies (in which a woman misses a period or has a positive
test), about 10% to 20% end in miscarriage.
What causes miscarriage?
The majority of miscarriages are believed to be caused by genetic problems in
the embryo that would prevent a baby from developing normally and surviving.
These fatal genetic errors typically are not related to genetic problems in the
In other cases, certain illnesses or medical conditions can cause miscarriage
and may increase the risk of miscarriage. Mothers who have diabetes or
disease are at increased risk of miscarriage. Infections that spread to the
placenta, including some viral infections, can also increase the risk of
In general, risk factors for miscarriage include the following:
Most women who miscarry later go on to have a
healthy pregnancy and birth if no serious risk factors are present.
Many women wonder about the right time to
try to conceive again after miscarriage. From a purely physical point of view, the body heals rapidly from a miscarriage, and
menstrual periods usually return within 4
to 6 weeks, meaning that it is possible for many women to become pregnant right away if they choose.