Late Miscarriage: Should I Be Worried?

29/11/2013 11:20 | Updated 22 May 2015

Late miscarriage: Should I be worried?Rex Features

Please remember late miscarriages are a tragic experience - but also rare.

What is late miscarriage?

Late miscarriage occurs between 14 and 24 weeks of pregnancy and unlike early miscarriage, mothers often have to endure the trauma of giving birth to their babies.

What causes it?

Around one in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage before 13 weeks, however late miscarriage is far, far less common. Only one or two per cent of women suffer a late miscarriage, as has happened to Kelly Brook.

Due to the frequency of first trimester miscarriages they are thought to be caused by a random genetic abnormality that occurs at the moment of conception and are often dismissed as 'one of those things'.

But miscarriage in the second trimester often indicates an underlying health problem with the mum-to-be. That could be physical, like a cervical weakness, a hormonal problem, like diabetes, or even a bacterial or viral infection. But often, it's not until they have lost a baby late in pregnancy that mums discover what it is.

How common is it?

Only one in every 100 pregnancies ends in a late miscarriage. And Ruth Bender Atik, national director of The Miscarriage Association, assures mums that there is no evidence of an increase in miscarriages, early or late. She says:


We suddenly have what appears to be a cluster of late-term losses and it's easy to assume this might be a pattern. But it's just an awful coincidence that three pregnant celebrities have suffered the same tragedy over a short period of time.


Professor Lesley Regan, head of the department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology at St Mary's Hospital, London, says what has happened is that there's been an increase in the number of reported miscarriages. This might be due to the fact that in the past, women often didn't know they were pregnant early on so many miscarriages went unnoticed. It could also be because of the increase in the number of women having babies later in life.

Who's most at risk?

There is a link between miscarriage and the age of the expectant mother and father. A woman aged 30 has a 12 per cent risk of miscarriage. But in her early 40s, that rises to 41 per cent, and over the age of 45, it shoots up to 75 per cent.

'Miscarriage rises with maternal age - and more women are having babies later,' says Prof Regan.

Is there anything I can do to reduce my risk?

Annette Briley, research midwife at Tommy's - the baby charity that funds medical research into miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth - says some preliminary research has linked stress and miscarriage. However there are no links between lifestyle and miscarriage, apart from extreme drinking and smoking.

For the vast majority, these disasters are a one-off, bad luck situation.

Ruth Atik Bender agrees: "The most important thing to remember is that although miscarriage is common, late miscarriage is rare and there is no data to suggest otherwise. The best you can do is follow the guidelines to keep you and your baby safe."

What pregnant mums should be doing:

The charity SANDS advises all mums-to-be to do the following as part of a normal pregnancy:

● Eat well and stay healthy.

● Stop smoking and avoid alcohol and drugs.

● Go to all your antenatal appointments – regular monitoring can pick up early signs if your baby is not developing well.

● Report any bleeding or abdominal pain immediately.

● Be aware of your baby's movements. If you notice a change that worries you, call your midwife or maternity unit straight away.

● Talk to your midwife about the risk factors for stillbirth. If you are at higher risk your pregnancy care should take that into account.

For more information, go to

To speak to a midwife for help and advice, call Tommy's on 0800 0147 800 or visit

Suggest a correction