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Coming to Term: Uncovering the Truth About Miscarriage Hardcover – January 11, 2005

4.4 out of 5 stars 46 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Frustrated by wildly differing explanations for his wife's four lost pregnancies, award-winning science writer Cohen (Shots in the Dark: The Wayward Search for an AIDS Vaccine) set out to understand miscarriage, a subject fraught with misunderstanding, controversy and emotional pain. Writing in an impressively sensitive and balanced tone, Cohen describes the dynamics of human female egg production, the signs of an impaired fetus, the impact of odd numbers of chromosomes, the relevance of a woman's age and the efficacy of a range of medical interventions designed to help women carry a baby to term. Integrated into this highly readable narrative are the moving stories of numerous couples whose hopes for a child have been repeatedly thwarted by miscarriage. Cohen also gets candid scientific opinions from leading researchers in the field and provides intelligently skeptical and illuminating guidance on some of the more controversial treatments, from lymphocyte immune therapy to the use of progesterone to treat luteal phase deficiency. Looking back, he draws cautionary lessons from the popular miscarriage treatment of the 1950s, diethylstilbestrol (DES), a synthetic estrogen now known to cause cancer in female offspring. This enlightening and comprehensive study is a must read for any woman battling the emotional roller coaster of miscarriage and for all those interested in an underexplored area of pregnancy and women's health.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

After Cohen and his wife suffered multiple miscarriages, he decided to research miscarriage, a topic about which little is commonly known. He found that the medical community offers surprisingly scanty information about what causes what is also called spontaneous abortion. He spoke with more than 100 women, interviewed dozens of medical and scientific experts, and pored over pages of data. What he learned, as presented in this sensitively written, reader-friendly book, is both frustrating and encouraging. Despite hundreds of so-called miracle treatments and tricks, for which hopeful couples pay dearly, experts confess that no one can say with any certainty what causes and, more important, what might prevent most miscarriages. Hence, Cohen cautions against accepting the unsubstantiated claims of well-meaning practitioners. On the other hand, statistics show, he says, that the odds of a woman who has suffered several miscarriages carrying a fetus to term inexplicably increase with each miscarriage. A valuable resource. Donna Chavez
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (January 11, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618277242
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618277247
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,280,362 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is by far the best book available on miscarriage. I found it invaluable for these reasons:

1) It provides detailed information about why/how miscarriage occurs which I have never read elsewhere despite (unfortunately) countless hours spent researching the subject. Cohen (who is a science writer) interviewed experts in genetics and recurrent miscarriage and scoured files and viewed slides collected in miscarriage studies. This book presents far more information than a typical book on pregnancy loss provides, and Cohen does a commendable job of making some really complex biology accessible to the average reader.

2) The book explains why there is so much controversy surrounding miscarriage treatments. In short, to prove a treatment really works, doctors need to design a trial that shows the treatment is more effective than doing nothing at all. But women miscarry for many different reasons and a treatment that might help a woman who miscarries due to hormonal problems obviously won't help one who has a structural problem with her uterus, for example. One scientist quoted says miscarriage is a "malfunction," not a sickness, so a study of miscarriage treatments is more difficult to design than a study of say, diabetes treatments, where patients are much more alike. There's also, Cohen says, little financial incentive for the pharmaceutical companies to do them, but that's another issue. The result is VERY FEW treatments are actually proven to work--they might or they might not, nobody has much data to show.

3) The book explains why doctors are so apt to tell you "just try again." This is the good news promised on the cover: Even women who have had 4 miscarriages in a row are likely to carry a baby to term with NO intervention whatsoever.
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Format: Hardcover
For anyone who has experienced a miscarriage (or, even worse, miscarriages), this is a must-read book. From Cohen's extremely detailed but easily understandable descriptions of how eggs and sperm are created and how they meet to create a human being to the debunking of common myths (still held by most doctors), you won't be able to stop reading.

One's first surprise is how humans ever manage to reproduce at all when approximately seven out of every ten conceptions fail. The next surprise is that early home pregnancy tests can be as much a curse as an announcement of happy news. By now knowing just days after conception that they are pregnant, most women will likely "experience" early miscarriages that would have gone unnoticed or been regarded as simply late periods a mere ten years ago. More of these women will believe they have a problem conceiving when what they are really experiencing is the body's very normal method of maintaining only those fertilized eggs most likely to develop into healthy babies.

Cohen describes extremely intriguing cellular studies of conceptions from the first moments of fertilization to weeks after implantation to demonstrate what really happens when sperm meets egg and the many things that can go wrong. Almost all of the early failures are due to either problems with implantation (often hormonal or a matter of bad timing) or chromosomal defects that occur at the very first stages of cell division, which are infinitely more common than anyone knew before.
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Format: Hardcover
I browsed a few books on miscarriage after my first. Not very helpful books. Had a second miscarriage, and just a few weeks ago, a third. I have no children (yet!).

After reading reviews of this book, I thought that it would be worth a read. And it was. I had little or no hope that I'd ever carry a child to term. I wanted to move on to adoption, while my husband wants to continue trying to conceive, through in vitro fertilization.

Well, this book has given me hope again. I learned that it's not just "a miracle" when a woman with repeat miscarriages has a healthy kid.

It's a well-written and compassionately written book. It helps so much when people have experienced this unbearable pain of miscarriage write these types of books.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this after my third miscarriage. This book is what gave me the courage to try again. It explains in detail exactly why miscarriages happen, the science behind it. It is very well written, compassionate and encouraging. This book is what got me through our last year of trying to have a baby. It explained why it is likely, after recurrent chromosomal miscarriages to still carry to term eventually if you keep trying. We were finally successful on try number four and now have a healthy 10 month old girl. It also explains the causes of other types of miscarriages and the solutions available to overcome them.

I recommend this book to any woman I know who suffers the heartache of a miscarriage. Doctors will tell you over and over again that it just happens, and to keep trying. That's just not good enough for most of us. We need to know WHY it keeps happening and WHY it is possible to still be successful. This book will answer those questions.
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