The medical definition of a pregnancy loss depends upon the gestational age of the pregnancy at the time the loss occurred. A miscarriage is defined as the spontaneous loss of a fetus before the 20th week pregnancy. “Among women who know they are pregnant, about 10% to 25% will have a miscarriage.” A loss occurring after the 20th week of pregnancy is labeled a stillbirth. National Institutes of Health/U.S. National Library of Medicine. “Miscarriage.” MedlinePlus, https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001488.htm. A stillbirth is also referred to as fetal death or intrauterine fetal demise. A late stillbirth occurs after 28 weeks. Weigel, Gabriela et al. “Understanding Pregnancy Loss in the Context of Abortion Restrictions and Fetal Harm Laws.” KFF, Women’s Health Policy, 4 December 2019, https://www.kff.org/womens-health-policy/issue-brief/understanding-pregnancy-loss-in-the-context-of-abortion-restrictions-and-fetal-harm-laws/.

Additional Information

National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR). “Pregnancy loss leads to post-traumatic stress in one in three women.” Mental Health, 9 February 2021, https://evidence.nihr.ac.uk/alert/pregnancy-loss-post-traumatic-stress/ 

Farren, Jessica et al. “Posttraumatic stress, anxiety and depression following miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy: a multicenter, prospective, cohort study.” American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Volume 222, Issue 4, 1 April 2020, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajog.2019.10.102

Slome Cohain, Judy, Buxbaum, Rina E., Mankuta, David. “Spontaneous first trimester miscarriage rates per woman among parous women with 1 or more pregnancies of 24 weeks or more.” BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, 2017, https://doi.org/10.1186/s12884-017-1620-1

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), Early Pregnancy Loss, FAQs, February 2015, https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/early-pregnancy-loss.

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), Opposition to Criminalization of Individuals During Pregnancy and the Postpartum Period, Statement of Policy, December 2020, https://www.acog.org/clinical-information/policy-and-position-statements/statements-of-policy/2020/opposition-criminalization-of-individuals-pregnancy-and-postpartum-period.

France, Hannah. 2022. “Doctors say methamphetamine use does not cause miscarriages.” KGOU. https://www.kgou.org/health/2022-01-26/doctors-say-methamphetamine-use-does-not-cause-miscarriages.


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