Miscarriage linked to higher risk of early death, study suggests

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Miscarriage could be linked to early death in women, researchers have said.

A study published by the British Medical Journal suggested the risk may be higher for younger women or those who suffer repeated miscarriages.

US-based researchers said women who had a miscarriage could be 19% more likely to die early, suggesting miscarriage may be an "early marker of future health risk in women".

The authors of the paper set out to investigate the link between miscarriage - which they termed "spontaneous abortion" - and the risk of death before the age of 70.

They used data from 101,681 women as part of the Nurses' Health Study in the US, which consists of female nurses aged between 25 and 42.

Across a 24-year follow-up period, the researchers said 2,936 premature deaths were recorded, including 1,346 from cancer and 269 from cardiovascular disease.

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While death rates from all causes were comparable for women with and without a history of miscarriage, they were higher for those who had experienced three or more miscarriages and for women reporting their first miscarriage before the age of 24.

The study found that the association of miscarriage with premature death was strongest for deaths from cardiovascular disease, but there was no link with death from premature cancer.

Taking into account potentially influencing factors such as age, race and health conditions as well as post-pregnancy dietary and lifestyle factors, the researchers said women who had a miscarriage were 19% more likely to die prematurely than women who did not experience a pregnancy loss.

The researchers concluded: "We found that spontaneous abortion, particularly recurrent spontaneous abortions and spontaneous abortions occurring early in a woman's reproductive life, was associated with an increased risk of premature death.

"The greater risk of all cause premature mortality associated with spontaneous abortion was mainly a result of a higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

"Our results suggest that spontaneous abortion could be an early marker of future health risk in women, including premature death.

"More research is needed to establish how spontaneous abortion is related to women's long term health and the mechanisms underlying these relations."

According to the NHS, an estimated one in eight pregnancies will end in miscarriage among women who know they are pregnant.

The study's authors accepted their research has some limitations, including that it remains unknown whether experiencing a pregnancy loss "merely unmasks pre-existing risks or instead triggers or accelerates the development of premature death".

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