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Miscarriage as Grievous Bodily Harm from Trauma

Posted by Dr Mike O'Connor on 17 September 2015
I was recently asked to comment on the likelihood that an assault was the cause of a subsequent 12 week miscarriage. The maximum penalty in NSW for a conviction for common assault is 2 years, the maximum penalty for assault causing actual bodily harm is 5 years imprisonment and for assault causing grievous bodily harm with intent is 25 years imprisonment.

The likelihood of trauma as a cause of miscarriage in the first trimester is very low especially because the bony pelvis protects the gravid uterus almost completely. It should not be forgotten that the best documented risk factors for spontaneous abortion are advanced maternal age, previous spontaneous abortion, and maternal smoking .In the event that a previous ultrasound has demonstrated fetal viability then the risk of subsequent spontaneous miscarriage is 9.4% at 6 weeks, 4.2% at 7 weeks 1.5% at 8 weeks and 0.5% at 9 weeks. A previous termination of pregnancy or even a previous spontaneous miscarriage can increase the chances of a subsequent spontaneous miscarriage. Once alcohol consumption reaches 10 standard drinks per week (100g) the risk of spontaneous abortion doubles. Overall the risk of spontaneous miscarriage is between 8-20% until 20 weeks.
Author:Dr Mike O'Connor
About: Dr Mike O'Connor is an obstetrician and gynaecologist based at Kogarah in Sydney's southern suburbs. Dr O'Connor is the current Chairman of the Medical Advisory Committee at St George Private hospital. He also has a Masters in Health Law and is a Fellow of the Australasian College of Legal Medicine and acts as an expert witness in medico legal issues.

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