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Types of loss


A miscarriage is the loss of a pregnancy during the first 23 weeks, as many as 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. Among women who know they are pregnant, it is estimated that 1 in 6 pregnancies end in miscarriage. There are several types of early pregnancy loss:

  • Missed miscarriage - A missed miscarriage is often diagnosed at a routine ultrasound scan, whether around 12 weeks or at the 20 week ‘anomaly’ scan.  However, it might also be seen at a non-routine scan, NHS or private, whether or not there are any symptoms. With a missed miscarriage, the scan picture usually shows a pregnancy sac with a baby (or fetus or embryo) inside, but there is no heartbeat and the pregnancy looks smaller than it should be at this stage. In some cases, the scan shows an empty pregnancy sac or no clear sac at all.  The embryo has either not developed or it stopped developing at a very early stage and been reabsorbed by the body.

  • Blighted ovum - Blighted ovum and anembryonic pregnancy both describe a particular kind of early miscarriage. Although there are the beginnings of a baby, the cells that will become the baby stop developing early on, and the tiny embryo is reabsorbed. However, the pregnancy sac, where the baby should develop, continues to grow.

  • Chemical pregnancy -  A chemical pregnancy (sometimes called biochemical pregnancy) is a very early pregnancy loss which usually happens just after the embryo implants (before or around 5 weeks). As it happens at such an early stage, you may not have any pregnancy symptoms apart from your positive test and it would be too early to be able to see anything on a scan. 

  • Second trimester loss - Late miscarriage, also called second-trimester or mid-trimester loss, refers to a miscarriage that happens when a baby dies between 14 and 24 weeks of pregnancy.

Compassionate induction (TFRM)

If tests show that your baby has a serious genetic or structural condition (not growing in the normal way), you may be offered a termination for medical reasons (TFMR) to end your pregnancy. This is the most common reason for medical termination during pregnancy. You may also be offered a termination if you have any pregnancy complications that pose a significant threat to your life or your baby’s if you continue the pregnancy.


Stillbirth is the delivery, after the 24th week of pregnancy, but before or during birth. . Around 1 in every 224 births ends in a stillbirth in the UK.


Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden and unexpected death of a baby where no cause is found. Around 88% of SIDS deaths happen when a baby is six months old or less.

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