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Very thin women at higher miscarriage risk

Written by: Staff

LONDON, Dec 4 (Reuters) Very underweight women are 72 percent more likely to suffer a miscarriage in the first three months of pregnancy, according to a study today.

Researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicines (LSHTM) also found eating fruit, vegetables and chocolate could reduce the risk of miscarriage among underweight women.

The study examined the association between biological, behavioural and lifestyle risk factors and the likelihood of miscarriage, which affects about 250,000 women annually.

The findings suggested that those classed as very underweight -- with a body mass index of less than 18.5 -- were much more likely to miscarry in the first trimester.

The research also revealed the two-thirds of women who took vitamin supplements early on in their pregnancy reduced the miscarriage risk by about a half -- with the effect most pronounced for those women who took folic acid, or iron and multivitamins.

A daily intake of fresh fruit and vegetables also halved the odds while eating chocolate seemed to lower the likelihood of a miscarriage.

The study said single women were more likely to miscarry than those married or living with a partner. If a woman changed partner -- after being pregnant by another man -- the odds of miscarriage rose by 60 per cent.

Women who had previously undergone a termination and those who had had IVF fertility treatment were also in a higher risk group.

The study found that having a planned pregnancy lessened the odds of a miscarriage, although those women who took more than a year to conceive were twice as likely to miscarry compared with women who became pregnant within 3 months.

''The findings related to low pre-pregnancy weight, previous termination, stress and change of partner are noteworthy,'' said Noreen Maconochie, senior lecturer in Epidemiology and Medical Statistics at the LSHTM.

The lead author of the study said further work was needed to confirm the findings. The study had looked at 600 women who had miscarried and more than 6,000 whose pregnancy had passed the 12 week mark.

Reuters SSC VV1657

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