Morning Sickness: Does It Affect Miscarriage Risk?

I am about seven weeks pregnant, but the only symptom I have is tender breasts. I read that those with morning sickness have a lower chance of miscarriage. Is this true?

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Peg Plumbo CNM

Peg Plumbo has been a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) since 1976. She has assisted at over 1,000 births and currently teaches in the... Read more

Breast tenderness is often the first symptom of pregnancy with nausea following within one to three weeks. There is no medical documentation that proves that women who have nausea, as opposed to any other symptom of pregnancy, are more or less likely to carry their babies to term.

Very few studies have researched the onset of symptoms in early pregnancy. A study published in in the July 2002 issue of the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology found that almost 90 percent of pregnant women who do not eventually miscarry experience pregnancy-related symptoms within eight weeks of their last menstrual period. Most women begin experiencing pregnancy symptoms abruptly at six weeks after their last menstrual period -- two weeks after your first missed period -- and these continue each day. It was discovered that symptoms started later in pregnancies that miscarried, as well as among women who smoked tobacco or marijuana.(Journal of Clinical Epidemiology 2002;55:676-680) This makes sense if you understand that implantation of the fertilized ovum sets up a complex sequence of events, which will change the hormonal balance in the mother. Some mothers are more sensitive to these changes than others, so severity of symptoms is not the variable that indicates risk.

The fact that you have even one pregnancy symptom, bodes well for the continuation of the pregnancy. But of course, women with no symptoms often go on to have healthy pregnancies and babies and those with many symptoms may still experience miscarriage.

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