Why an abnormal chromosome can cause pregnancy loss.

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Q. I had two miscarriages then a beautiful daughter. After my daughter, we tried and had two more miscarriages and an ectopic pregnancy. My doctor said it could be "balanced translocation" in the chromosomes, but there is no way to know for sure. What exactly is this and why would it only occur sometimes?

A: There are several known causes of recurrent pregnancy loss including abnormalities of the chromosomes. A translocation is a piece of one chromosome stuck to another. If a healthy adult has the balanced form, passing it along in an unbalanced way can lead to pregnancy loss. If it is passed along in a balanced way, or not passed along at all, it can result in the birth of a healthy child. You and your husband can have your chromosomes tested to see if either of you carries a balanced translocation. Other tests of recurrent pregnancy loss include hormone studies and measurement of immune substances lupus anticoagulant and cardiolipin antibody.

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