One in 100 women suffer from recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL), defined as the loss of three or more consecutive pregnancies, and over one-half of these cases remain unexplained. But, for the first time ever, scientists may have pinpointed one of the major causes of multiple miscarriages.
Based on examined tissue samples of womb lining from 183 women who have had recurrent miscarriages, researchers from the University of Warwick in the U.K. discovered these women lacked a type of stem cells in their womb lining, which caused the repeated loss of pregnancies. In fact, study lead author Dr. Jan Brosens, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology, said, “We have discovered that the lining of the womb in the recurrent miscarriage patients we studied was already defective before pregnancy."
The researchers are now trying to find ways to improve the endometrial screening test for women at risk for recurrent miscarriage and develop ways to boost the stem cells in the womb lining so it renews itself. The lining has to renew itself each cycle, and this renewal capacity is dependent on the resident stem cell population.
"There are a number of drugs and other interventions, such as endometrial ‘scratch’, a procedure used to help embryos implant more successfully, that have the potential to increase the stem cell populations in the womb lining," said Dr. Siobhan Quenby, a co-author of the study and University of Warwick professor of obstetrics.
Many women who have suffered a miscarriage often carries the guilt, thinkingt "what they could have done or what they did not do" in order to save the baby. But there are many reasons a woman miscarries, and often the causes are out of her hands. Some of the most common reasons for miscarriage:
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Up to 70 percent of first-trimester miscarriages and up to 20 percent of second-trimester miscarriage are caused by chromosomal abnormalities.
Infection or exposure to environmental toxins, such as malaria, pneumonia, rubella, and sexually transmitted illnesses. These are common in developing countries.
Uterine abnormalities or an abnormally-shaped uterus can cause a miscarriage because the embryo cannot implant properly.
Immunologic disorders happen when a woman's body rejects the presence of the sperm and treats it as a foreign object. As a result, the woman's antibodies go into attack mode to eliminate it.
Illnesses such as thyroid problems and diabetes increases the risk for miscarriage. This is why you need to have your thyroid checked and keep your blood sugar levels in check.
Lifestyle factors such as smoking and drinking alcohol have been associated with a higher risk for miscarriage.
Sources March 8, 2016. "Scientists identify cause of multiple miscarriages for first time" (theguardian.com) March 8, 2016. "Boosting stem cells may stop multiple miscarriages: Study" (business-standard.com) November 10, 2014. First Trimester Miscarriage: How Common Is It And What's The Cause?" (medicaldaily.com)