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Miscarriage is the secret heartache of one in four women, and most of those lost their babies during the first trimester of pregnancy.

According to new Danish research, up to 25 percent of these miscarriage may be prevented with lifestyle changes in the future. What can you do to minimize your risk of early pregnancy loss?  

The new study analyzed a grand total of 91,427 women. They came up with some surprising conclusions, and some that are more or less old news. Women who are trying to conceive or already in the early stages of pregnancy can learn a lot from this latest advice. The study, published in the International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, was carried out by researchers from the University Of Copenhagen. Senior researcher Anne-Marie Nybo Andersen pointed out that the study will make quite a difference to the way in which we address miscarriage: "The main message from the paper is that miscarriages are a subject for prevention."

What increases the risk of miscarriage?

The study might make a lot of difference in policies geared toward prenatal care, but individual women can also change some things. What are they? Being obese or even merely overweight increases the risk of miscarriage, but being underweight can also have similar detrimental results. Women who would like to become mothers can attempt to address any weight issues they have before they start trying for a baby to bring their risk of miscarriage down.

Lifting more than 44lbs (or 20kg) on a daily basis can increase the risk of miscarriage, the study found. While that might be quite surprising to some, nobody will be shocked that drinking alcohol in the first trimester makes one more likely to suffer a miscarriage.

Working night shifts something already known to be really bad for a person's general health was also found to raise the risk of losing a pregnancy. Finally, first time moms beyond their early thirties were in a higher-risk group as well.

What does this mean for you?

What does this news mean for women who are currently trying to conceive, and those who aren't? We already know that the first trimester is when the important action really happens. Egg and sperm come together and the fertilized egg starts dividing rapidly, creating ever more cells. The embryo travels to the uterus, where it has to implant successfully. The baby's internal organs and the placenta form. While there are many potential complications during later pregnancy, the early stages bring the highest risk of miscarriage the body's reaction to anything that goes wrong.

This study has a lot of serious implications for all women of reproductive age and their partners, in short. "Everybody, young men and women, as well as those who have political responsibilities should bear in mind that postponing pregnancy to the mid-30s implies a seriously increased risk of miscarriage," Ms Nybo Andersen pointed out. Nature doesn't "think" much of the current trend towards motherhood at a later age, then. Of course, nobody can reverse the clock. Perhaps this study will, however, help some younger couples decide to take the plunge and try for a baby earlier in life.

If you are trying to conceive right now, you already know you should not be smoking or drinking. You also know you should be taking 400 mg of folic acid a day, and eating right. But have you considered giving up your night shifts if you work them? Have you considered losing weight or putting it on, as may be necessary? And have you thought about not lifting anything heavy? Twenty kilos really doesn't seem like a lot. It's no more than a small holiday suitcase, and even some high school kids' backpacks weight that much. The old advice that "pregnancy isn't a disease" might just require a little rethinking, in other words! What do you think about the new study? Are you surprised, or not? Are you planning to follow any of the advice that could be formed from the conclusions of this new research? Please let us know what you think!

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