TLC Reality Series "19 Kids and Counting": The Duggar family… (Scott Enlow / TLC )
Sad news for Michelle Duggar and family: The "19 Kids and Counting" mom learned that she suffered a miscarriage in her second trimester.
The miscarriage reportedly was detected during during what was supposed to be a routine doctor's appointment for Duggar, 45 -- a heartbeat no longer could be detected. She and husband Jim Bob Duggar had been expecting their 20th child this spring. They plan to hold a funeral and will pick a name once they determine what the child's sex would have been.
According to People, Duggar plans to let the miscarriage proceed naturally, without any drugs to induce her uterus to contract.
"It has been a real sad disappointment...I feel like my heart broke telling my children," Duggar told People earlier. "They have all been so excited about this baby and looking forward to April coming around and having a new little one in our arms."
Duggar reportedly suffered a miscarriage back in the 1980s when she was pregnant for the second time.
Studies say that from 10% to 25% of pregnancies will end in miscarriage, according to the American Pregnancy Assn. Most miscarriages occur relatively early, in the first 13 weeks of pregnancy, or roughly around the first trimester.
For that reason, "we usually like to wait well into the second trimester to announce a pregnancy," said Jamie Lipeles, an OB-GYN at Marina del Rey Hospital, when the occurrence of a miscarriage is much lower. That way, women who lose a pregancy within 13 weeks will be less likely to face unwanted questions.
There are many reasons why miscarriages occur, and it's often hard to understand why they happen in individual cases. But there are several risk factors, including but not limited to excessive caffeine intake, exposure to radiation and hormonal problems.
One significant risk factor is age, Lipeles said, adding that it's also a risk factor for premature birth; Duggar's last child was born three months premature and had to stay in the hospital for four months, according to The Times' Ministry of Gossip.
"Women older than age 35 have a higher risk of miscarriage than do younger women," the Mayo Clinic explains. "At age 35, you have about a 20 percent risk. At age 40, the risk is about 40 percent. And at age 45, it's about 80 percent." Paternal age plays a role as well.
Miscarriages can take many forms; some may require treatment to stop hemorrhaging, while others may occur without a woman even realizing at first.
After a miscarriage, women should wait for three to six menstrual cycles before attempting to get pregnant again, Lipeles said -- and women should consult with their OB-GYNs on their health and the risk factors going forward.
In all cases, it's key for women to have access to counseling and emotional support -- and the American Pregnancy Assn. provides some resources to that end.
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