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Vanessa Marcil, Michelle Duggar Experience Miscarriages

Last week, two celebrities experienced the loss of a pregnancy through miscarriage in a high-profile way. Michelle Duggar, 45, the Arkansas woman who stars on the TLC reality show "19 Kids and Counting" was expecting her 20th child when she suffered a second trimester miscarriage. And former 'General Hospital', 'Beverly Hills 90210' and 'Vegas' star Vanessa Marcil-Giovinazzo, 43, had a second miscarriage this year, announced by her husband on Twitter December 6.

Miscarriage is the term used for a pregnancy that ends on its own within the first 20 weeks of gestation. It is the most common type of pregnancy loss, with most miscarriages occurring during the first 13 weeks of pregnancy. Studies show that anywhere from 10 percent to 25 percent of clinically recognized pregnancies will end in miscarriage. The most common causes of miscarriage during the first trimester are are abnormalities in the number of chromosomes. This is called aneuploidy.

As a woman ages, she is more likely to have a miscarriage if she becomes pregnant. One of the reasons is that as a woman's eggs age, they are more likely to have chromosomal abnormalities. While a woman under 35 has approximately a 15 percent chance of miscarriage, the risk of miscarriage increases to 20 to 35 percent for women who are 35 to 45 years old, and it can be as high as 50 percent for a woman over 45.

If a woman has two or more miscarriages it is called recurrent miscarriage or recurrent pregnancy loss.

Whether a woman has children or not, a miscarriage can be heartbreaking and an extremely emotional event. There is hope, however. Even for a woman who has as many as four miscarriages, she still has a 60 percent chance of a successful pregnancy. In addition, technologies such as preimplantation genetic screening used in conjunction with in vitro fertilization (IVF) may help reduce the incidence of recurrent miscarriage and increase the chances of a successful pregnancy with fertility treatment.

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