Until now, very little has been known about why some women suffer recurrent miscarriages.
Many women experience feelings of frustration when they are told by medical professionals that miscarriages simply happen. It can be incredibly difficult to suffer a loss and receive no explanation as to why this has happened to you.
Between 15 and 25% of all pregnancies are thought to end in miscarriage. Often, miscarriages occur very early on, even before women realise they are pregnant.
Recurrent miscarriage is categorised as the loss of three or more pregnancies. It is thought to affect about 1% of women and can be devastating.
Recurrent Miscarriage – A New Discovery
Thanks to advancements in technology, scientists have now uncovered another reason why women might suffer from recurrent miscarriages.
Using new technology, Jan Brosens from Warwick University conducted a study to determine why recurrent miscarriages occur. The researchers analysed tissue samples from the uterine linings of 183 women. They found that some women who suffered from recurrent pregnancy loss had fewer stem cells in their uterine tissue samples. Researchers believe this lower number of stem cells causes the uterine lining to age too quickly and that this is responsible for miscarriage.
The study’s co-author, Siobhan Quenby, told the BBC: “I’ve been trying to find a cause for miscarriages for 20 years, and we frequently find that the lining of the womb is different, in all sorts of respects, in people with recurrent miscarriage compared to people who don’t have recurrent miscarriage. However, what we need to do is understand the fundamental biology, and the thing that’s wrong is a lack of stem cells.”
“You recruit stem cells from your bone marrow to your blood to the lining of your womb every month when you have your monthly cycle, so that means that if I can increase this process of stem cell recruitment, I can improve the lining of the womb in people who are deficient in stem cells. So now I’m going to do a series of studies to try and improve this, what we call, stem cell recruitment, which is moving of stem cells from the blood to the lining of the womb. Now I’m really lucky because Tommy’s, the baby charity, are funding us. They’re just opening the National Miscarriage Centre that we’re part of which means I have the money to do this research for the first time ever.”
Brosens’ team will conduct two further research studies. They hope to identify treatment options, and develop them for women at risk, in order to prevent further miscarriages.
Other Causes Of Recurrent Miscarriage
It's important to understand there are several causes for recurrent miscarriage. Doctor Andrew Orr, who has a Masters in Reproductive Medicine and Women’s Health, explains.
“The cause of miscarriage is a complex issue, with multiple factors involved. There is never, ever, one single contributing factor, just like every disease in the world is not caused by one factor alone. This identified shortage of stem cells, may in fact be one cause of miscarriage and could offer one answer to the equation. But it really requires many other issues to be looked at as well. We do not want a woman's complex issue behind recurrent miscarriage being overlooked. The real reason behind miscarriage requires a multi-modiality approach to look at complex issues caused by multiple factors in a woman’s life; for example, obstetric history, genetic history, family history, gynaecological history, psychological history, health history, dietary and lifestyle history, and much more. There is never just one single cause of disease that affect us as humans. The same goes for miscarriage.”
Read more about Natural Killer Cells, which might cause recurrent miscarriage.