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01.12.2018 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

BMC Women's Health 1/2018

University students’ awareness of causes and risk factors of miscarriage: a cross-sectional study

BMC Women's Health > Ausgabe 1/2018
Indra San Lazaro Campillo, Sarah Meaney, Jacqueline Sheehan, Rachel Rice, Keelin O’Donoghue
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1186/​s12905-018-0682-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.



Spontaneous miscarriage is the most common complication of pregnancy, occurring in up to 20% of pregnancies. Despite the prevalence of miscarriage, little is known regarding peoples’ awareness and understanding of causes of pregnancy loss. The aim of this study was to explore university students’ understanding of rates, causes and risk factors of miscarriage.


A cross-sectional study including university students. An online questionnaire was circulated to all students at the University College Cork using their university email accounts in April and May 2016. Main outcomes included identification of prevalence, weeks of gestation at which miscarriage occurs and causative risk factors for miscarriage.


A sample of 746 students were included in the analysis. Only 20% (n = 149) of students correctly identified the prevalence of miscarriage, and almost 30% (n = 207) incorrectly believed that miscarriage occurs in less than 10% of pregnancies. Female were more likely to correctly identify the rate of miscarriage than men (21.8% versus 14.5%). However, men tended to underestimate the rate and females overestimate it. Students who did not know someone who had a miscarriage underestimated the rate of miscarriage, and those who were aware of some celebrities who had a miscarriage overestimated the rate. Almost 43% (n = 316) of students correctly identified fetal chromosomal abnormalities as the main cause of miscarriage. Females, older students, those from Medical and Health disciplines and those who were aware of a celebrity who had a miscarriage were more likely to identify chromosomal abnormalities as a main cause. However, more than 90% of the students believed that having a fall, consuming drugs or the medical condition of the mother was a causative risk factor for miscarriage. Finally, stress was identified as a risk factor more frequently than advanced maternal age or smoking.


Although almost half of the participants identified chromosomal abnormalities as the main cause of miscarriage, there is still a lack of understanding about the prevalence and most important risk factors among university students. University represents an ideal opportunity for health promotion strategies to increase awareness of potential adverse outcomes in pregnancy.
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