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Miscarriage risk to mother and baby

Previous miscarriages greatly increase the danger of giving birth prematurely, according to research presented at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Amsterdam.

Scientists from the UK, Denmark and Spain have found that one or more miscarriages doubles the risk of pre-term rupture of the membrane that surrounds the baby in the womb.

After three or more miscarriages the risk of placenta praevia - blocking of the cervix - rises six-fold and the likelihood of congenital malformations in the baby is doubled.

Meanwhile, premature delivery is also more likely after any complication early in the pregnancy, or in previous pregnancies.

Says study leader Dr Robbert van Oppenraaij, from Erasmus MC University Medical Centre in Rotterdam: "While it is true that most conditions are difficult to prevent, with improved monitoring in high-risk pregnancies it is possible to reduce perinatal or postnatal foetal complications."

The researchers believe that the findings will help doctors identify women at greatest risk and who may need more care and monitoring in the months leading up to childbirth.

Copyright © Press Association 2009

European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology