Repeated miscarriages: This hormone could improve chances of healthy pregnancy
A large-scale new study has provided some fresh hope for women who have had miscarriages and experienced early bleeding in pregnancy.
Birmingham researchers carried out a trial on 4,000 pregnant women, and found that the giving women with a history of miscarriages or pregnancy bleeds the hormone progesterone could improve their chances of having baby.
Progesterone is a hormone essential in pregnancy - for maintaining the lining of the womb where the embryo is implanted and for supporting the immune system, and with progesterone already used in IVF treatment, researchers were eager to see how this could work for women who had gotten pregnant naturally too.
The University of Birmingham study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, involved one group of around 2,000 pregnant women given progesterone, while another group of the same number were given a placebo, or dummy pill.
All the women had experienced bleeding in early pregnancy.
Although the study showed that not all women with early bleeding could be helped by taking the hormone, the benefits were greatest among women with a history of recurrent miscarriages (three or more). Among those women, there was a 15 percent increase in the live birth rate - with 98 out of 137 women going on to have a baby, compared with 85 out of 148 in the placebo group.
Arri Coomarasamy, study leader and consultant gynaecologist at Birmingham Women and Children's Hospital, told the BBC that the treatment could save thousands of babies' lives.
"We hope that this evidence will be considered by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence and that it will be used to update national guidelines for women at risk of miscarriage," Coomarasamy explained.
At present, when women are potentially miscarrying, "there is nothing we can offer them", he says.
But the consultant gynaecologist were also keen to stress that the treatment would not work for all women who miscarry, because there were many complex reasons why miscarriage occurs.