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Monday, October 23, 2006

Pregnancy Bleeding Misunderstood: Expert

More than half of women who bleed during pregnancy go on to miscarry their baby - and too many wrongly blame themselves for the loss, a fertility expert says.

Dr Devora Lieberman, director of the miscarriage management program at Sydney IVF, says one in five prospective mothers will suffer from bleeding after normal conception.

Babies that survive are usually smaller, born prematurely and delivered by caesarean section, but more than 50 per cent will be miscarried.

However, Dr Lieberman said the extent of the problem and the impact on affected women was widely misunderstood.

She has told a fertility conference in Sydney there is nothing a woman can do to cause the bleeding.

"But you'll find women blame themselves and think `maybe it was my stress levels or maybe it was having sex, or lifting something'," Dr Lieberman told AAP.

"There's very little awareness out there about it and unfortunately many doctors and nurses treat this situation as routine without understanding the emotional impact."

Scientists don't fully understand the cause of the bleeding but believe it is linked to a problem in the placenta and breakage in the developing blood vessels of the foetus.

"We simply do not know a lot about the cause, and no intervention has been found to be useful," Dr Lieberman said.

About 80 per cent of women confronted with pregnancy loss from bleeding elect to have the baby surgically removed immediately.

The rest opt to give birth when the baby is due, often because they are scared of surgery or want a "natural solution".

Dr Lieberman used the Fertility Society of Australia annual meeting to call for more research into the cause of the problem and more effort to raise public awareness.

"We need to have more resources to educate mothers about the possibility and better support systems within the health sector and beyond," she said.


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