Black women are 40% likelier to have miscarriages, according to study

New research has found that black women are up to 43% more likely to have a miscarriage compared to white women.

A study conducted by the Lancet analysis sampling 4.6 million pregnancies in seven countries, including the UK, US, Canada and parts of the Nordic region, found that black women were up to 43% more likely to suffer a miscarriage compared to their white counterparts.

Factors that increase miscarriages

Research found that other factors that increase miscarriages besides racial background include:

  • being under 20 or over 40
  • a previous miscarriage
  • being very underweight or overweight
  • working long hours overnight
  • smoking
  • high alcohol intake

The main reason for why black women experience a higher risk of having a miscarriage is due to their genetic predisposition to developing type 2 diabetes and heart diseases. Professor Siobhan Quenby, deputy director at Tommy's National Centre for Miscarriage Research, who worked on the study said:

We know there's an increased risk of dying in pregnancy for black women. But I was very shocked to also find an increased risk of miscarriage.

Neglecting the most vulnerable

The research also highlighted the fact that women of all ethnicities—and in the UK especially—did not receive adequate medical support when experiencing afirst miscarriage, which often led to further miscarriages for many of them.

As black women are naturally predisposed to miscarriages, the lack of support after a first pregnancy loss only enables the experience to repeat itself. More specifically, as it stands, referrals to clinics specialising in miscarriages are only given after a third consecutive miscarriage occurs.

Professor Quenby—who also runs a recurrent miscarriage clinic—explains that there are ways to prevent miscarriages from happening that can start by simply implementing lifestyle changes such as navigating addictions or adopting a healthier diet. As a result, she believes that the health system has failed black women:

There are things we can do to prevent miscarriage. It's not a condition that's hopeless. That means the health services missed three opportunities to get them into a better state for their next pregnancy.

Nadine Dorries, minister for women's health, said:

Suffering the loss of a child is a tragedy beyond words, which is why we're urgently working to understand and address the causes of miscarriages, while providing the best support for families.

And added:

For too long, miscarriage has been minimised and often dismissed. The lack of medical progress should be shocking. Instead, there is a pervasive acceptance. The era of telling women to 'just try again' is over.
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