Baby Loss Awareness Week shines a light on ‘vital work needed to improve pregnancy outcomes’

This year marks the 21st anniversary of Baby Loss Awareness Week in the UK and runs from 9-15 October, culminating in the global Wave of Light.

Pregnancy loss covers a number of scenarios including miscarriage (up to 24 weeks), ectopic pregnancy and molar pregnancy.

The organisers of Baby Loss Awareness Week say that the annual campaign provides an opportunity to raise awareness of the impact of pregnancy and baby loss on people’s lives. It also aims to highlight the need for  bereavement support and that more work is needed to improve pregnancy outcomes and to save babies’ lives.

Baby Loss Awareness Week

Why do miscarriages happen?

As many as 25% of clinically diagnosed pregnancies end in miscarriage. However, when combined with pre-clinical losses, where the female partner was unaware she was pregnant, the true incidence may be higher. Most miscarriages are isolated incidents, often due to a chance chromosome error and occur within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. 

Recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL) is a different condition and much rarer. It is estimated that 5% of women experience two consecutive miscarriages and approximately 1-2% suffer three or more. 

Being over 35 increases the risk of chromosome errors in the embryo, which is a common cause of early pregnancy loss, however for RPL there are potentially other factors involved. 

Attitudes to miscarriage

A recent survey by the charity Tommy’s showed that there is still progress to be made regarding attitudes to miscarriage. 

The survey of 2,000 people who had experienced one or more miscarriages in the last 8 years found that: 78 per cent felt like a failure after miscarriage; 71 per cent felt guilty; and 59 per cent said they found it difficult or very difficult to talk about their miscarriage. 

Shreeya Tewary
Shreeya Tewary

When it came to sharing their experience of miscarriage with other people many faced comments which showed a lack of understanding of the emotional impact with 73 per cent being told it ‘wasn’t meant to be; 53 per cent were told ‘at least it happened early; and 49 per cent were advised to ‘just try again’. 

Dr Shreeya Tewary, formerly a Research Fellow and then Clinical Lecturer at the Tommy’s Centre for Miscarriage Research, recently joined Bourn Hall’s new Miscarriage Clinic and agrees that attitudes towards miscarriage need to change: “Recurrent pregnancy loss is debilitating and associated with considerable psychological distress. It has been shown that compassionate care and recognition of this significant life event has a beneficial effect on outcomes,” she says. 

Improving Pregnancy Outcomes

Tommy’s say that half of early miscarriages are not due to chromosomal abnormalities but have underlying causes which can be cured. 

The charity currently has a number of research projects underway aimed at improving pregnancy outcomes including: testing fetal DNA to see if miscarriage happened for genetic reasons; researching a drug that could increase stem cells in the wombs of women who have suffered recurrent miscarriage; following up on studies that appear to show that damage to the DNA of sperm can more than double the risk of miscarriage; and a trial looking to see if differences in women’s heart and blood vessels before or early in pregnancy can lead to miscarriage.   

Bourn Hall’s specialist Miscarriage Clinic aims at improving pregnancy outcomes for anyone who has experienced one or more miscarriages or early pregnancy losses (EPL) either after natural conception or fertility treatment. 

Dr Tewary comments: “One in four women will suffer a miscarriage at some point in their life. For eighty per cent of these losses it will be a chance event due to a chromosomal error in that particular pregnancy. However recurrent pregnancy loss is a different condition and much rarer. It is estimated that five per cent of women experience two consecutive miscarriages and approximately 1-2 percent suffer three or more and these are increasingly likely to be genetically normal embryos with each loss so we need to look for other causes.” 

More information

If you have been impacted by early pregnancy loss you may find our special fertility support group meeting  Fertility After loss seeking answers and moving on helpful it is open to anyone, you don’t have to be a Bourn Hall patient.

Find out more about Baby Loss Awareness Week at

Find out more about Bourn Hall’s Miscarriage Clinic 

Read stories on our blog from patients who have suffered miscarriages and baby loss.

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