Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

Tanzania: Miscarriages Attributed to Lifestyles

LACK of frequent medical body checks prior to having children and changes in lifestyles have been pinpointed to be the cause of increased incidences of miscarriages in the country.

The International Medical and Technological University (IMTU) Director and public and family consultant, Dr Ali Mzige exclusively told the 'Daily News on Saturday' that issues pertaining to miscarriage were multi-factorial with lifestyle changes taking centre stage.

"The problem of many women today is that they do not prepare to have children, a lot of the times it just happens. When one prepares, if they are consumers of alcohol they stop during the pregnancy period and particularly the first three months," he said.

Dr Mzige said increased use of alcohol and tobacco were big contributing factors as well as stress which hinders one from controlling the functions that put them at peace or in a state of calm.

He said that stress which has become very common among many Tanzanians because of a number of reasons increases blood pressure and causes one to lose appetite or force one to eat when they don't feel like doing so.

"When one loses their control of the mind and body, it affects their hormones and can end up destroying the pregnancy. Growth hormones are active when one is asleep but when stressed even sleep becomes a problem," he said.

Dr Mzige explained that many miscarriages are also happening because women have stopped eating green leafy vegetables that control the body mechanism in the fight against diseases like cancer and can bring about the loss of the child or a defect after birth.

The changing environment is another contributing factor whereby increased pollution, dust in the air, chemicals in food packaging and drinks in plastic bottles is being pointed at. Scientists say: "far too little" is known about the health risks of chemicals used in food packaging, and some could cause cancer.

According to an article from the BBC website, research is needed to understand the effect on the human body and embryonic development of at least 4,000 chemicals used in packaging. Links between packaging and obesity, diabetes and neurological diseases need to be explored, scientists warn.

The Management and Development for Health District Clinical Services Coordinator and Team Lead, Dr Martha Tsere told this paper that observation around show a clear sign that cases of miscarriages were on the rise and could be attributed to changes in lifestyles.

Dr Tsere concurred with Dr Mzige on the contributing factors leading to a miscarriage adding that the move from organic to processed foods among many women in the country wasn't helping the situation.

"I cannot say for sure whether miscarriages are on the increase because I have no data to back it with. However, I can say that increasingly from friends and relatives, I hear about them and it is becoming common. It is also possible that I am hearing these things because I am in the reproductive age group," she explained.

A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Copenhagen found that more than a quarter of first-time miscarriages could be prevented by making a combination of lifestyle changes.

The study that was published in the International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology cited that lifting more than 20kg each day during pregnancy and being obese or underweight increased the risk of miscarriage. According to Wiley Online Library, women beyond their early 30s, who drank alcohol and worked night shifts during pregnancy were also more likely to miscarry, they said.

The study analysed 91,427 women. It was estimated that 25.2 per cent of the miscarriages might be prevented by reduction of all these risk factors to low risk levels. Modification of risk factors acting before and during pregnancy could lead to prevention of 14.7 and 12.5 per cent respectively, of the miscarriages. Maternal age at conception and alcohol consumption were the most important risk factors.

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