'Diagnosis' breakthrough may hold the key to preventing miscarriages
A NEW technique to help predict which pregnant women are likely to suffer a miscarriage could lead to new ways of rescuing pregnancies, experts believe.
There is currently no way of telling which women who show early signs of miscarriage will go on to lose their baby, meaning they may undergo unnecessary tests and treatment.
But researchers in the UK have now discovered a reliable method of predicting what will happen to them.
They said the development should mean that, in many cases, unnecessary tests are avoided, while the technique could also help develop more effective ways of stopping women losing their babies.
The study, outlined at the European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology meeting in Stockholm, followed 112 pregnant women who showed signs that they might go on to lose their baby.
About 20 per cent of all pregnancies are complicated by a threatened miscarriage, which includes symptoms such as cramps and bleeding. Of these, up to 20 per cent will go on to miscarry.
Dr Kaltum Adam, from St Mary's Hospital in Manchester, and colleagues followed the women between six and ten weeks of pregnancy.
They found that six factors had the biggest impact on the risk of miscarriage - history of reduced fertility, levels of progesterone, levels of the pregnancy hormone human chorionic gonadotrophin (hGC), the length of the foetus, the amount of bleeding and the gestational age of the baby.
On their own, these factors were unable to accurately predict if a woman would have a miscarriage. But the researchers combined information on the amount of bleeding and hGC levels to produce a pregnancy viability index (PVI).
Using this combined test, they were able to accurately predict that the pregnancy would continue in 94 per cent of cases, and where it would end in miscarriage in 77 per cent of women.
Dr Adam said: "This research has, for the first time, offered us a robust tool to begin to attempt to rescue pregnancies threatening to miscarry when, currently, all we can do is fold our hands and hope for the best."
Measures which can be used to help prevent miscarriages include bedrest and daily aspirin.
Dr Adam said the PVI test could also mean that women avoid repeated tests and scans if their risk of miscarriage was low, and also give them reassurance.
Professor Andrew Shennan, from baby charity Tommy's, said: "This research is valuable in terms of predicting whom might be at risk (of miscarriage], but much more research is still needed to actually establish interventions and prevent miscarriages from happening in the first place."
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Saturday 18 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 13 C
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Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
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Wind direction: North east