Miscarriage misdiagnosed in around 400 cases of pregnancy a year

Miscarriage misdiagnosed in 400 cases a year


As many as 400 mums each year may be told they have miscarried when there is nothing wrong with their pregnancy.


Research led by Professor Tom Bourne of Imperial College London found that in some cases, women who have been told they have miscarried could have gone on to have healthy pregnancies. The problem stems from the complexity of reading early scans. Mistaken diagnosis can be caused by difficulty in reading the complex scans, old equipment and simple human error.

A study of 1,000 British women estimated that around 1 in 200 women deemed to have miscarried because they have an apparently empty sac of over 2cm will actually still be pregnant. These women, would benefit from waiting for a second scan a week or so later that would confirm whether the foetus was dead or alive.

Professor Bourne says: ‘For most women sadly there is nothing we can do to prevent a miscarriage. But we do need to make sure we don’t make things worse by intervening unnecessarily in ongoing pregnancies.’

Ruth Beder Atik, National director of the Miscarriage Association, said: “It is a double-edged sword for women. There is the distress and anxiety as they wait to find out but, then again, they don’t want to terminate a pregnancy unless they have to.”

Miscarriage is common, effecting 500,000 women every year. If you are diagnosed with a miscarriage, consider asking for a second scan for your own piece of mind, in case there has been an error in the results.

Losing your baby is an extremely difficult time, but it is important to remember that most women go on to conceive and have perfectly healthy babies.

If you have any concerns during your pregnancy you should consult your doctor. And for help and advice contact the Miscarriage Association helpline on: 01924 200 799 (Mon-Fri 9am-4pm).

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